Management pundit Peter Drucker - often called "the father of modern management" - would have turned 100 this month, which has led to a week-long celebration at the two schools that bear his name, a self-help book aiming to explain how "Peter Drucker's wisdom can inspire and transform your life", and of course countless articles in the media, from the Financial Times to The Economist to Harvard Business Review.
I have "The Essential Drucker" at home, although I'll admit I never made it past page 58 (I still have the bookmark in place), as I find Drucker's style a bit off-putting - his writing, at least in that book, is very terse with no example to back up the insights he gives; I am more used to business authors who illustrate their points with stories from the companies they have consulted for. But I do plan on giving the book another try in the near future.
I particularly liked the Economist's column on Drucker, which points out that "[w]hen Drucker first turned his mind to the subject in the 1940s [the management-advice business] was a backwater." As a result, Drucker comes across as genuinely eager to help businesses improve. In addition, he remained in the profession for over 60 years, which gives him added credibility in a field that "has always been prey to fads and fraudsters."
My favorite quote in the article is: "Drucker liked to say that people used the word guru because the word charlatan was so hard to spell." Needless to say, Drucker did not view himself as a guru, although that is precisely what the Economist called him when he was featured in its, you guessed it, "management gurus" series (see "Management Guru: Peter Drucker", October 2008 - the article provides a great overview of Drucker's life and contributions, although unfortunately it is available only to subscribers). Additional Economist articles on or by Peter Drucker are listed on this page.
I also enjoyed reading HBR's spotlight on Drucker, in particular Rosabeth Moss Kanter's article ("What would Peter say?"), in which she summarizes Drucker's main themes as follows (I am excerpting her points - read the full article for the complete statements): (1) "Management should be a profession", (2) "Knowledge workers [an expression Drucker coined decades ago] cannot be controlled; they must be motivated", and (3) "Not-for-profit organizations are necessary ingredients in producing a good society."
For those of you who would like to read a full article by Peter Drucker, the Wall Street Journal recently reprinted Drucker's 1993 column entitled "Drucker on Management: A Turnaround Primer". You can find it here.