I dont know how many of you have heard about Peter Drucker. He is hailed as the “management guru” of the century. He passed away on Nov 11, 2005 at age 95. I had the oppurtunity to be in class with a professor who once studied under Drucker. This professor idolised Drucker’s principles throughout the course. But then, I am the kind who doesnt take other’s words unless I know it myself. Especially, I always considered the concepts in management to be “glorified commonsense”. So, I couldnt possibly perceive the fact that someone could be a visionary on that topic. But, when I studied more about Drucker, I realised that he was a great human. Though some of his principles sounded very basic from a higher level of abstraction, I found them to be extremely helpful in reality. Since it is beyond the scope of this blog to summarize all his sayings, I would like to point out a couple of things that influenced me.
One of the major question I have in managing my career is, what do I do next? When I talk to more and more people, I only hear more and more of the same answer. Earlier in life, the choices were laid on a platter and it was very easy for me to pick a choice. In some cases, I didnt even had to make a choice. When I did my 6th std, I knew that I was going to be doing 7th, 8th– +2 and then a college degree. There was very little ambiguity. But, the same is not true now. The most common perception is that, if one does their job to everyone’s satisfaction, they will progress. This is true only to an extent. If it was true in your case throughout your career, then it implies that you were one of the fortunate few who had a very good set of managers. In reality, it is not true. Drucker talks a lot about managing oneself. He says that, the key to managing oneself is to identify your strengths. He says that, one should capitalise on the strengths and continually improve than trying to improve on their weaknesses. One should constantly seek for oppurtunities where their strengths match a given requirement and show how one can perform. He also says that, if you are a “knowledge-worker”, you should reinvent and revitalise yourself with knowledge. This is the way I see it. If you are selected for a job that you do very well, 4-years from then, if you are doing a similar job with not a whole lot of productivity/skills improvement, you could very well be replaced by someone 4-yrs younger to you without much difference in output, and that too, for a lesser salary. The company is not there to educate you for future market needs. They only use you for your current expertise. So, you are responsible for formulating your career. Another key ingredient to doing this is to manage your boss successfully, even if it takes flattery..:).. Simply put, the answers to most problems lie within you.
Apart from his philosophical outlook, the thing that inspired me the most is his life itself. He lived for 95 years. During the time, he has published 38 books and numerous articles in the field of management. He was a liberalist from the beginning, in that, he wrote articles against Hitler. He identified the importance of managing people and was one of the first ever to formalise management as an academic topic that needs to be taught. He constantly learned throughout his life and enlightened others to learn as well. He strongly believed that future oppurtunities are nothing but current oppurtunities. That said, he was able to predict the state of management and its impact on people, well before it happened. He predicted globalisation and its impact dating as far back as in 70s. He was undoubtedly a great visionary. He pursued his passion and never got tired of whatever he undertook. That is one good example to live life by.
1) The Daily Drucker <- Book
2) Managing Oneself, Managing Your Boss <- Publications in Harvard Business Review
3) Latest Business Week Issue cover page article on Peter Drucker