By Jim Drennen, CPIM
Jim is an independent contractor to the Manufacturers Alliance, after serving on its Board for six years. Jim has worked in manufacturing and distribution for 40 years in addition to being adjunct faculty at The Colleges of St. Scholastica, teaching classes in marketing strategy, digital marketing, and strategic leadership for change.
WWDD? (What Would Drucker Do?)
Peter Drucker is the father of modern management. His books are still regarded as foundational for leading and managing a business. Because he published in the 1940s all the way to the beginning of the 21st century, it may be tempting to say that Drucker is not relevant today. This would be akin to saying we can ignore certain artistic principles since they are not modern. (Try telling that to Beethoven.)
Drucker offers a clairvoyant vision in the manner of a business truth teller. He possessed an edge like that of an inspired entrepreneur. In Peter Drucker: Shaping the Managerial Mind, author John Flaherty says,
"Drucker asserted that it was possible to improve performance in the existing business by using the entrepreneurial approach of
converting problems into opportunities and thus neutralizing resource misallocation and modifying vulnerabilities.”
Drucker also foreshadowed JIT (just-in-time) and Lean by 20 years:
"There is only one way to make innovation attractive to managers; a systematic policy of abandoning whatever is outworn, obsolete,
no longer productive, as well as the mistakes, failures, and misdirection of effort."
Abandonment frees up time, talent, and resources for working capital. To support his contention, Drucker offered the Bernoulli theorem: in any series of endeavors, the chances of succeeding are reduced 50% with each new effort. The time and resources expended are sunk costs and are not justifications to keep a failed project in the mix.
Several of Drucker’s pearls of wisdom can be found through an Internet search. Keep in mind, many of these items were written in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. In Drucker’s case, truly if you want a new idea, read an old book.
Lessons Learned: Key business success factors include converting problems into opportunities and thus neutralizing resource misallocation; to make innovation attractive to managers, embrace a systematic policy of abandoning whatever is outworn, obsolete, and no longer productive.
For an excellent review of Peter Drucker’s philosophy and writings, see this text. Note: you can buy this book from Amazon in the MA Bookstore.
Peter Drucker: Shaping the Managerial Mind--How the World's Foremost Management Thinker Crafted the Essentials of Business Success by John E. Flaherty