Independent in All Things, Neutral in Nothing

Philosopher of Management

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While most management gurus trowel out sludge worth more in paper weight than in business insight, one man – often referred to as a guru – has claimed my respect and admiration, as he has those of many leaders, managers and businesspeople worldwide. Peter Drucker died four years ago, and his writings seem just as relevant today as when he wrote them.

Many years ago, I dismissed Drucker as simply belonging to that underperforming group of people – gurus. Granted, I did this unfairly, having never read him. But a friend implored me to take up his writings. I do not exaggerate when I note that reading Drucker for the first time was like reading Plato for the first time: intensely confusing, fascinating and mind-blowing. I knew in five pages that Drucker had me hooked; like Plato, I would read him for years, maybe for the rest of my life, to glean his wisdom and attempt to profit by it.

Reading Drucker, this comparison with Plato struck my mind first. It seems apt. Just as all of philosophy since Plato is a commentary on Plato, so all examination into the nature of organizational management – research, writings and theories – is a commentary on Drucker. Many years will pass before his lessons become obsolete, perhaps centuries.

As I have stated before, I do not particularly like most management gurus, and I do not think of Drucker as a guru. I think of him as a philosopher of management. That does not mean his writings have no practical application; they have great value in the real world (just as many of Plato’s ideas do). Indeed, if Capitolism has any aspirations, it views Drucker as a guiding light and seeks to become a forum of practical philosophy on business, organizational, trade, management, leadership and small business issues. Over the coming months (and hopefully years), I will frequently refer to and highlight the lessons of this great man. For the time being, two additional thoughts:

First, among his writings, his autobiography, Adventures of a Bystander, is an underappreciated treasure.  Reading it, I came away with the impression of a man of truly unique wisdom and virtue. Putting the book down, I reflected that Drucker was one of the great minds of the 20th century.

Second, The Economist contains a good reflection on Drucker this week – well worth reading.


Written by Russell S.

November 22, 2009 at 10:53 pm

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