on April 14, 2011
"We do not know yet precisely how to link the liberal arts and management. We do not know yet what impact this linkage will have on either party---and marriages, even bad ones, always change both partners." Peter Drucker, "Teaching the Work of Management."
"For Drucker, the principal goal of management, then, is to protect individual freedom and opportunity." Joseph Maciariello and Karen Linkletter
Those two quotes capture the tone for a book dedicated to the enlightened vision and prolific writings of one man: Austrian-born, Peter Drucker. The co-authors are serious and passionate students of the Drucker style of management. This book examines his fundamental perspective of employee management as a liberal art. Professor Maciariello and Dr. Linkletter provide ample evidence to support his thesis and introduce the breadth of Mr. Drucker's voluminous work to the reader. They also delve deeply into Drucker the man to show how and by whom his extraordinary life was shaped.
Organized Format, Painstaking Research and Highly Readable
There are eight chapters, a lengthy introduction (21 pages) along with precise and very detailed notes, sources and index sections. This book is a long work at almost 400 pages. Given that the co-authors are respected academics and historians, I anticipated a somewhat tedious read. I was in for a pleasant surprise. The co-authors writing style was informative and engaging to complement the educational element to maintain the reader's interest. The book is clinical in its presentation and is almost a dissertation on Mr. Drucker himself.
My only complaints: A few chapters were over 50 pages in length and provided too much information (at least for me) to digest at once. Each chapter had a brief conclusion but there were no detailed summaries which could have been a useful feature to reinforce learning.
One salient feature was the number of contemporary company examples that were used to portray Mr. Drucker's vision in practice. For example, the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill, Toyota car recall, Goldman Sachs collapse and the Massey Coal tragedy. These links to current events provided a good complement to historical case studies of companies and leaders made by Mr. Drucker. My favorite example was the timely inclusion (2011 is the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War) about Abraham Lincoln found in Chapter Six.
"Drucker assumed the very essence of management to be integrity in leadership."
"Management must involve an understanding of the human condition and of human nature."
"Corporations once built to last like pyramids were more like tents."
"Management as a liberal art does not seek to eliminate interpersonal conflict; instead, it recognizes that conflict is an inherent part of the human condition."
"In hiring a worker, one always hires the whole man... Individuals are not naturally designed to work in organizations."
"The purpose of the business is to create customers."
The co-authors noted a few of Mr. Drucker's predictions made many years before they became reality: The demise of the Soviet Union, the reorganization of General Motors, the rise of mega-churches and demographic pressures on the American Social Security system to name a few.
Whether you are an academic, executive, manager, researcher, student or an admirer of Peter Drucker, this book will become a trusted resource and reference tool.
A McGraw-Hill representative provided me with a complimentary review copy of this book. I was not monetarily compensated for the review by any party that would benefit from a positive analysis.
The authors, both long-time followers of Peter Drucker, have written a book that does Drucker's work justice. The care and scholarship that went into this work are evident from the introduction on, and the vision the author's present is, as they say, timeless. While I don't agree with all of Drucker's conclusions, one has to admire how he sought to elevate management to a liberal art.
Chapter One starts off with a great quote from Drucker that explains the book's purpose:
"Management is thus what tradition used to call a liberal art-"liberal" because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom, and leadership; "art" because it is practice and application. Managers draw on all the knowledges and insights of the humanities and the social sciences-on psychology and philosophy, on economics and history, on the physical sciences and ethics. But they have to focus this knowledge on effectiveness and results-on healing a sick patient, teaching a student, building a bridge, designing and selling a "user-friendly" software program"
According to Drucker, management goes way beyond the business world. Everyone practices management skills daily, and Drucker tried to elevate the moral, spiritual, and philosophical elements of management in every day life. His work is heavily influenced by his Christian background and his worldview is reflected in all of his works.
One of the most helpful part of this book was the discussion on leadership. "Effective leadership is assuming responsibility for getting the right things done" (246). This is the best chapter in the book and has some great advice for leaders.
This is a heavily researched, well-organized, well written work. I can't see many people reading it who aren't familiar with Drucker already, unless they have a specific interest in management as a liberal art. It's written for business people, but the lessons contained in the book are useful for many. Management of people as a force for good is an idea that is hard to reconcile in the modern business world, but this book points us towards principles and a leader who shows us the way. Recommended.
on January 20, 2016
This is the most complex book about Peter Drucker trying to explain his oeuvre from various perspectives with cross-references to very important representatives of various disciplines of what is called liberal arts now extended to management in business, non-profit organizations, government and managing oneself.
Economics, sociology, ecology, management etc. are subsumed under “social ecology” – an interdisciplinary complex - with Peter Drucker’s self-positioning relatively late in his life as a “social ecologist.”
Given the amazon look inside function I do not repeat the Contents of this book.
Professor Maciariello is the first and best person to accomplish this undertaking together with his co-writer Karen E. Linkletter.
“Liberal Arts” is the English term for the German “Geisteswissenschaften” which means that in the German liberal arts are considered as sciences which contradicts Drucker’s definition of management as a practice instead of being a science.
The book provides insights into Drucker’s oeuvre connecting it with details in the history of relevant liberal art disciplines and representatives which did not cross my mind when reading Peter Drucker’s books despite the fact that Drucker himself did not spare any opportunity connecting the reader with his wide and deep knowledge.
I do not know why the title “Drucker’s Lost Art of Management” was chosen because Drucker’s oeuvre about Management cannot be considered as lost; already in the second decade of the 21st century his rich legacy provides us with very important lessons we should keep in mind and use it as a benchmark for sound and successful management.
Having studied this book intensively – as all books by and about Peter Drucker – my observations consist of some selected original citations of the authors followed by my comments marked MC.
Introduction - Management as a liberal art:
One way to begin to address this subject is to take seriously Drucker’s statement that management is a liberal art. Although he never fully defined this concept, it is clear that he envisioned a linkage between the liberal arts tradition inherited from Greek and Roman civilizations and the pragmatic, day-to-day operations of an organization. (Pg. 2)
Drucker left it to others to define the implications of management as a liberal art. (Pg. 18)
Chapter 1 Origins of Management as a Liberal Art in Peter Drucker’s Writings
Drucker didn’t define management as a liberal art very clearly, however. His earliest reference to management as a liberal art appears in 1988. …
Next, in his 1989 work The New Realities, he offered the following explanation of management as a liberal art:
Management is thus what tradition used to call a liberal art – “liberal” because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom, and leadership; “art” because its practice and application. (Pg. 24f.)
MC: in 1985 Peter Drucker wrote in his Preface: “The Practice of Management [first published in 1954] was the first true “management book.
In Chapter 2 of his Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, edition 1985, we find the following statements: “Management, both as a practice and as a field of thought and study, has a long history. Its roots go back almost two hundred years. (Pg. 21). “
In “Management – revised edition” published post-mortem in 2008 (revised and updated by Joseph A. Maciariello) we find the following statements:
“When asked in early 1999 about his most important contributions he answered:
‘That I established the study of management as a discipline in its own right; and That I … focused the Discipline of Management on management as a truly liberal art.’” (Page V).
In absence of any definition and historic positioning the authors are tying management as a liberal art back to the Greeks and Romans and subsequently across the whole historic arc into the 21st century.
This is a valuable contribution by the authors but not by Peter Drucker.
We can follow this concept and/or make up our own mind.
Consequently it is inappropriate to call Drucker’s whole oeuvre a “Lost Art of Management.”
Nothing is lost if we open our eyes and minds and study attentively original Drucker first and foremost.
Religion and Moral Influences:
Drucker was immensely private regarding his own religious beliefs. (Pg. 33)
Several times Drucker stated that Kierkegaard had a profound impact on his life. He discovered the Danish philosopher’s writing at the age of 19 while working as a trainee at a Hamburg export firm. (Pg. 34)
In Drucker’s words, “Faith is the belief that in God the impossible is possible. (Pg. 40) …
Chapter 4 Federalism and the Distribution of Power and Authority Management by Objectives:
A related feature of MBO is upward communications in which each manager clarifies the objectives of his or her superior and then sets objectives that are both achievable by the manager and congruent with the superior’s objectives. … (Pg. 172)
The superior reviews all objectives and negotiates agreement with each manager while seeking to integrate the objectives of subordinates on whose performance the superior depends. In the process, the superior seeks to gain enthusiastic acceptance and commitment from each manager for agree-upon objectives. If the superior is successful, this process of communication and participation will encourage subordinates to internalize these objectives. Ideally, achieving organizational objectives becomes identical to achieving one’s own objectives. (Pg. 173)
MC: my 26 years of practical MBO experiences in a global corporation are telling me that things are not that simple.
Chapter 5 The Human Dimension and Management as a Liberal Art
“Unemployment (or underemployment) is the most obvious example of the loss of function and status. According to Drucker, unemployment is “economic catastrophe … [along with] social disfranchisement.” The unemployed worker is “an outcast – for a man who has no function and status, for whom society has no use and nothing to do, has been cast out.” (Pg. 191)
MC: unfortunately we do not find any proposals or ideas how to cope with this catastrophe. It is comfortable to talk and write about management without tackling this permanent challenge.
Examples of the Drucker Vision: ServiceMaster and Dacor. …
ServiceMaster values … Their approach to leadership and management was based upon four objectives:
1. To Honor God in all we do
2. To Help People Develop
3. To Pursue Excellence
4. To Grow Profitably (Pg. 206) …
a unique story in American business history and worthy of systematic study. Most of the company’s workers were unskilled laborers engaged in service tasks, such as cleaning hospital rooms and airport waiting areas. Footnote 3. (Pg. 207) …
Just as Drucker interpreted profit as a moral force, as derived from the work of Schumpeter, Pollard [CEO and Chairman of ServiceMaster] linked profit to God … (Pg. 222).
MC: in footnote 3 on page 400 we find further details:
“The implementation of the ServiceMaster model, which was based on Drucker’s vision, was limited to those employees who were managed directly by company executives and did not fully extend to the company’s franchise operations.”
Further internet-research reveals the following details:
“In March 2007, ServiceMaster accepted a $5.5 billion buyout offer from a New York-based private-equity firm.”
There is a difference between Drucker’s “profit is no longer immoral. It becomes a moral imperative” [see his essay “Schumpeter and Keynes”] and “linking profit to God” in a vision statement!
Stretching Drucker is similar to what Theodore Levitt wrote in 1970: “Drucker is constantly and unashamedly plagiarized precisely because he says so many important and useful things in such remarkably simple ways that people are almost unaware of their plagiarism.”
(Peter Drucker – Contributions to Business Enterprise edited by Bonaparte & Flaherty – Pg. 8)
I do not know any book written by Peter Drucker in which he recommends any religious aspect in a vision statement.
The limitation of a vision statement to the top management excluding the workforce is irritating to say the least.
I doubt that this strange vision statement example has been maintained after the acquisition.
“Drucker and Schumpeter:
As follower of Schumpeter, Drucker believed that organizations must plan for the inevitable disruptions associated with creative destruction. Not surprisingly, Drucker charged that developing people requires a focus on the future, on opportunities and strengths rather than weaknesses. … Importantly, innovation should be led by those closest to the customer: those on the front lines of the organization.” (Pg. 218).
MC: Drucker knew Schumpeter very well – see his essay “Schumpeter and Keynes” published in 1983 and his book “Managing the Non-Profit Organization” published in 1990 -, however, as he was neither an economist nor did he keep economists in high regard – see his interview in his book “The Frontiers of Management” Page 13, published in 1999 - he was definitively not “a follower of Schumpeter.”
Drucker did recognize very carefully selected role models for carefully defined aspects, but he cannot be positioned as anyone’s follower.
The stereotype of connecting Schumpeter with innovation and creative destruction has become a topos in business management literature. For better details I recommend reading Peter Drucker’s “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” published in 1985 and Clayton M. Christensen’s books published in the 199Xs.
To summarize, the four Drucker practices and the four Service-Master objectives create overlapping and dynamic practices and objectives that have the potential for developing human capacity and character for the common good. They will work differently from organization to organization. … The four objectives may be applied to any organization. … With that in mind, here are 10 principles of leadership that supported the implementation of the four ServiceMaster objectives. The implementation of these leadership principles in any organization should lead to a management system similar to that existed at ServiceMaster. (Pg. 225).
The 10 principles described in detail in Maciariello (2002) serve as a bridge between the Judeo-Christian focus of the ServiceMaster model and those organizations for which such a model will not work. (Pg. 235)
MC: readers will not find any Judeo-Christian focus in Peter Drucker’s “Practices of Management".
Drucker described different concepts of ethics - e.g. Western ethics and Confucian ethics. Any integration of religious components into Drucker’s “practices of management” should be avoided. It would not comply with Drucker’s original writing; it would have been and would be a barrier for Drucker’s worldwide reception.
Peter Drucker addressed leadership several times developing and sharpening his view.
Peter Drucker starts his excellent and successful book “The Practice of Management”, Chapter 1 “The Role of Management”, Pg. 3, with the following sentence:
“The manager is the dynamic, life-giving element in every business. Without his leadership the ‘resources of production’ remain resources and never become production.”
In his “Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices” we find the following, very remarkable and pretty unobserved statements:
“Leadership Groups but not Leaders. A problem of ethics that is peculiar to the manager arises from the fact that the managers of institutions are collectively the leadership groups of the society of organization. But individually a manager is just another fellow employee. … And Primum non nocere, “not knowingly to do harm,” is the basic rule of professional ethics, the basic of an ethics of public responsibility.” Pg. 368-369.
In “Management – revised edition 2008” we find Peter Drucker’s Legacy:
“As Peter Drucker shows right here, in these pages, the very best leaders are first and foremost effective managers. Those who seek to lead but fail to manage will become either irrelevant or dangerous, not only to their organizations, but to society.” Pg. XI.
Jeffrey Krames interviewed Peter Drucker on December 22nd, 2003 and wrote in his book “Inside Drucker’s Brain” published in 2008: Drucker’s stance on the topic of leadership and charisma had not changed in half a century. Pg. 125.
Chapter 6 – Effective Leadership as a liberal art –
Leadership: various interpretations (Pg. 238f) … Mayo and Roethlisberger’s now-famous interpretation of the Hawthorne experiments revealed that simple attention to working conditions could have an impact on productivity. (Pg. 239)
MC: in “The History of Management Thought”, 5th edition, published by Danial A. Wren in 2005, we find the following detail: “In brief, the Hawthorne studies have been subjected to so much manipulation and misinterpretation that the facts are clouded in myth and advocacy.” Pg. 299.
In "Drucker - A Life in Pictures" Pg. 29 by Rick Wartzman, published 2013, you find Drucker's view of Elton Mayo!
Psychology Pg. 242:
Drucker referred to Maslow as “the father of humanist psychology (Drucker, 1974, p. 195).”
MC: Maslow (1908-1970) made outstanding contributions to his discipline and to management: “Motivation and Personality”, published in 1954 and “Maslow on Management” published in post-mortem in 1998 with Peter Drucker’s admiration: “This is Maslow’s most important and most enduring book. It had a lasting impact on me.”
With “Men search for meaning” published in 1946 and other outstanding books Viktor E. Frankl (1905 Vienna -1997 Vienna) was first. I do not know why Peter F. Drucker never mentioned Viktor E. Frankl.
Abraham Lincoln: A Case Study … By analyzing various decisions made by Lincoln, and the differing interpretations of those decisions, we can begin to evaluate how Lincoln functioned in terms of Drucker’s leadership model. (Pg. 257/258).
MC: in Peter Drucker’s books readers find some relevant comments on American Presidents but neither a case study about Abraham Lincoln nor “Drucker’s leadership model.”
Crisis Management - Decision Making:
“The first rule in decision making is that one does not make a decision unless there is disagreement (Drucker, 1967, p. 148) Pg. 291.
MC: readers of Drucker’s books know that he learned this rule from Alfred Sloan. (1875-1966).
Chapter 7 Social Ecology and the practice of management as a liberal art (Pg. 299ff):
Practitioners … Taylor … Gantt … Frank Gilbreth … Lillian Gilbreth … Lyndall Urwick … Mary Parker Follett … Robert Owen (Pg. 319-326).
MC: some excellent and very important practitioners are missing, for example:
Henry Fayol (1841-1925), a French mining executive and author of the excellent book “General and Industrial Management” first published in French in the year 1916, later translated into English in 1929, mentioned by Peter F. Drucker in “The Practice of Management.
Walther Rathenau (1867-1922) German industrialist, politician, writer, and statesman;
Thomas J. Watson, Sr., (1874-1956) – see above.
Marvin Bower (1903-2003), American business theorist and according to Harvard Business School the “father of modern management consulting”, who built McKinsey.
Peter F. Drucker wrote in 2004 on the back side of the book “McKinsey’s Marvin Bower” by Elizabeth Haas Edersheim (biographer of Peter F. Drucker – see “The Definitive Drucker” published in 2008):
“I had the privilege of working closely with Marvin and McKinsey for many years. This book makes Marvin come to life and perpetuates him as a role model.”
Managing Oneself Pg. 336-343:
MC: I recommend reading Drucker’s small and very important books “Managing Oneself” published in 1999 and “Management – revised edition” published in 2008.
Chapter 8 Applied Social Ecology: Innovation and change for a hopeful and bearable society:
MC: for me this is the best chapter. It would be very interesting what Peter F. Drucker would have written after reading “The Rise of the Robots” by Martin Ford published in 2015 (best business book of the year 2015) describing artificial intelligence encroaching into all segments of knowledge workers and substituting them by smart machines resulting in dramatic increases of unemployment, income inequality and subsequent elimination of middle-class jobs.
Overall this book is a narrative how the authors perceived and interpreted Peter Drucker’s oeuvre.
It is no substitute for reading Drucker's original books and important books about Peter Drucker. It is rather an academic and intellectual exercise stimulating the reader beyond Drucker’s original oeuvre than a book about the Drucker’s very valuable practices of management which are definitively not lost.