Book Review: ‘The Daily Drucker’ by the Father of Managment Science

The Daily Drucker: 366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done. Peter F. Drucker with Joseph A. Maciariello. New York: HarperBusiness. 2004. 429 pages including annotated bibliography, index by title and topic. ISBN: 0060742445. Available from Amazon.com for $13.57

In today’s tough economic climate it’s more important than ever for managers to be the best at what they do – motivate employees, accomplish goals efficiently, create products or services that sell, and keep their businesses on a sound footing. They need all the help they can get to do so.

Peter Drucker has written fifteen books on management theory – indeed he is known as the Father of Management Science because of his 1954 book, The Practice of Management , which was the first to define management as a practice and a discipline – it defined management as a discipline that could be taught and learned.

The Daily Drucker is a guide to “executive effectiveness,” a distillation of the best of Drucker’s writings on a wide variety of topics, from Business Ethics to E-commerce to Managing Onself to Work and Human Nature.

Editor Joseph A. Maciariello explains how he compiled the book: Each reading starts with a topic (management, business and the world economy, a changing society, innovation and entrepreneurship, decision making, the changing workforce, the nonprofits and their management, etc.) and a “Drucker Proverb” or other quote capturing the essence of the topic. Then follows a teaching taken directly from the works of Peter Drucker. Next comes the Action Step, where you are asked to act on the teaching and apply it to yourself and your organization. The most important part of this book is the blank spaces at the bottom of its pages, says Peter Drucker is his introduction. “They are what the readers will contribute, their actions, decisions and the results of these decisions. For this is an action book.”

For example:

The Function of Management Is To Produce Results
“Management has to give directions to the institution it manages. It has to think through the institution’s mission, has to set its objectives, and has to organize resources for the results the institution has to contribute. Management is, indeed, J. B. Say’s “entrepreneur” and responsible for directing vision and resources toward greatest results and contributions.
In performing these essential functions, management everywhere faces the same problems. It has to organize work for productivity; it has to lead the worker toward productivity *and achievement. It is responsible for the social impact of the enterprise. Above all, it is responsible for producing the results – whether economic performance, student learning, or patient care – for the sake of which each institution exists.”

ACTION POINT: Is your organization delivering the results it should? If not, articulate your mission.

Indeed, it’s the Action Points that are the most valuable part of this book. Such as:

“Are you personally committed to getting results at work, or are you just going through the motions? Do you lack the authority to produce results? Either get it, or look for another job.”

Or:

“Exploit rapidly growing segments in your industry by providing a specialty skill for that industry that improves upon existing operations.”

Or:

Determine how your knowledge can be used to make the maximum contribution to your organization. Get agreement from your boss and colleagues on how you can maximize your contribution.

This is more than just a series of lessons in business…but also in the social impact of business, such as:

The Social Sector
“The real answer to the question “Who takes care of the social challenges of the knowledge society?” is neither “the government” nor “the employing organization.” It is a separate and new *social sector. Government has proven incompetent at solving social problems. The nonprofits spend far less for results than governments spend for failures.

Instead of using the federal tax system to encourage donations to nonprofits, we have the IRS making one move after another to curtail donations to nonprofits. Each of these movies is presented as “closing a tax loophole.” The real motivation for such action is the bureaucracy’s hostility to the nonprofits – not too different from the bureaucracy’s hostility to markets and private enterprise in the former Communist countries. The success of the nonprofits undermines the bureaucracy’s power and denies its ideology. Worse, the bureaucracy cannot admit that the nonprofits succeed where governments fail. What is needed therefore is a public policy that establishes the nonprofits as the country’s first line of attack on its social problems.”

Peter Drucker has all the credentials and experience you can ask for. Born in Vienna, Austria in 1909, he received his doctorate in Public and International Law from Frankfurt University, then worked as an economist and journalist in London before moving to the United States in 1937. His first book, The End of Economic Man, was published in 1939. He taught at New York University’s Graduate Business School and, since 1971, has been Clarke Professor of Social Science and Management at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California.

This reference work is a tool that should be on every manager’s desk.

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