Today is the official release date for Inside Drucker’s Brain. As far as I know, the information gleaned from my full-day interview with Drucker—which forms the centerpiece of the book—is the last major Drucker interview never-before-published, until today.
As I have started doing radio interviews for the book, one of the first questions I usually get from interviewers is this:
Why did you write a book on Peter Drucker? And why is he important now?
The truth is that I have been fascinated with Peter Drucker since the mid-1980s. First a bit of history: In 1992, I edited the first book ever published on GE’s Jack Welch, entitled The New GE: How Jack Welch Revived an American Institution. It had an awful jacket [cover] and was published by one of the smaller business book publishers (Dow Jones-Irwin), so even though the book did well, no one remembers it. Since that book came out I edited five other books on Welch and wrote three of my own. Ever since that first book on Welch, many of the former GE’s best management moves have been credited to Drucker. That always got me wondering about who this man really was. Because Drucker never headed up any large corporation (or any corporation, for that matter), nor was he a professor at say, Harvard or MIT, my curiosity over this man-behind-the-curtain only grew as time went on.
Of course, I had heard of Drucker since getting into the publishing business in the early 1980s. It was common knowledge that he was the best of the best. That was something business editors had taken as a given—like how Babe Ruth was the greatest home-run hitter of all time. But my interest in him only grew to a fever pitch after I started editing and writing books about Welch.
As an example of a Welch strategy that started with Drucker, let’s take [Welch’s] most famous management strategy—dubbed #1, #2. That was the theorem that held that unless one of your businesses was either #1 or #2 in its market, then it should either be “fixed, closed, or sold.” Welch explained that the originator of that concept was Peter Drucker. That got me thinking—how many more of Welch’s ideas came from Drucker (interesting aside: I learned far more about that during my interview with Drucker, which is highlighted in the book).
As for how timely Drucker is now, well, I have always believed that when things get bad one needs to get back to the fundamentals. When it comes to management, there was no one more fundamental to the field of management than Peter Drucker. He was the one who said “there is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer.” That sounds pedestrian now, but it was anything but when he first espoused it in 1954. Whether Drucker used fancy catch phrases as other later authors (e.g. reengineering, execution), he was the first to discuss so many important topics. The chief purpose of Inside Drucker’s Brain is to devote a quick chapter to each of Drucker’s signature ideas (16 in all), including such topics as:
* How to build your organization on strength
* How to incorporate innovation into the fabric of one’s organization
* How to make “life or death decisions”
* How to manage during a crisis
That should give you some insight into what’s in the book. The book acknowledges that Drucker wrote 38 books in all, and is written to provide a succinct summary of the best of the best of his seminal ideas (to order the book, go to the home page and click on “store.” The book comes up first and will take you to Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, 1800ceoread, etc.).