The Essential Drucker: Peter F. Drucker 2001

Essential DruckerI truly believe that “The Essential Drucker” is one of the best business books I have ever read.

Management is a very diverse discipline, though the science of management is surprisingly recent. Modern management practices were only first employed by US and UK manufacturing firms during the period 1885 to 1910, and gained a degree of acceptance during the 1920s and 1930s. Drucker, who earned a Doctorate in International Law and Public Law in 1931, began his business consulting career in 1934 in the USA, literally at the dawn of modern business management. For 71 years, from 1934 until his death in 2005, Drucker’s lifelong pursuit was the theory and practice of management.

“The Essential Drucker” is a compilation of excerpts from many of Drucker’s books, publications, and articles. Drucker was a prolific writer, publishing 36 books on Management, two novels, and an autobiography. He also published numerous articles for a variety of leading business and economic papers and journals. “The Essential Drucker” is organized into 26 chapters, collecting the wisdom and theory of Drucker’s most influential works, from “The Practice of Management” (1954) through “Management Challenges for the 21st Century” (1999).

I found it fascinating to explore Drucker’s observations, theories, and recommendations on management. Not only does the book cover a great diversity of management topics, it also covers a great diversity of time and geography. Drucker draws from his experience working with and observing leading manufacturing companies, hospitals, military, and non-profit organizations in the US, Europe, and Japan, to develop and refine his recommendations on management theory and best management practice.

Reading the book, it was at times quite obvious that the excerpted material was many decades old. “The Essential Drucker” is already nearly 15 years old, and some of its material is 60 years old. However, I was struck by the realization that, whereas the words and examples were old, the wisdom still rang true and valid.  I strongly believe that “The Essential Drucker” presents the best “time-tested” management theory and practice.

Though I am also growing older, and hopefully wiser, I do try to keep up with the evolution of technology. With rare exception, I read all of my books on my iPad. I was therefore pleased that “The Essential Drucker” is available as an ebook. This perhaps offers a further contrast, demonstrating that even vintage wisdom can be enjoyed using 21st century technology.

One of the best features of ebook readers is the ability to highlight text, create notes and annotations, and then review a summary of notes. I frequently revisit my ebook library, scanning through my book highlights looking for useful information. These notes also come in handy when I write prepare my blog book summaries.

In the case of “The Essential Drucker”, I believe I set a new personal record for the average density of page highlights. This book is simply jam-packed with useful information for any manager or executive.

To derive maximum personal benefit from Drucker’s 70 years of management wisdom, I have made a personal commitment to revisit this book early next year. I will diligently work my way chapter by chapter, reading each highlighted passage. This will allow me to efficiently and effectively review each topic which I found to be most important and informative. I aspire to periodically revisit Drucker whenever I feel the need to refresh and reinvigorate my management technique, or when I find myself struggling with an operational or leadership challenge.

One final comment on the benefit of ebooks: wherever I go, I always carry my iPhone, iPad, and/or MacBook. Drucker is on all three devices. Though Peter Drucker is no longer with us, by leveraging modern technology, I can consult with Drucker at any place or any time.

Frank T.