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Management Challenges for the 21st Century Hardcover – April 21, 1999
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No single person has influenced the course of business in the 20th century as much as Peter Drucker. He practically invented management as a discipline in the 1950s, elevating it from an ignored, even despised, profession into a necessary institution that "reflects the basic spirit of the modern age." Now, in Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Drucker looks at the profound social and economic changes occurring today and considers how management--not government or free markets--should orient itself to address these new realities.
Drucker sees the period we're living in as one of "PROFOUND TRANSITION--and the changes are more radical perhaps than even those that ushered in the 'Second Industrial Revolution' of the middle of the 19th century, or the structural changes triggered by the Great Depression and the Second World War." In the midst of all this change, he contends, there are five social and political certainties that will shape business strategy in the not-too-distant future: the collapsing birthrate in the developed world; shifts in distribution of disposable income; a redefinition of corporate performance; global competitiveness; and the growing incongruence between economic and political reality. Drucker then looks at requirements for leadership ("One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it"), the characteristics of the "new information revolution" (one should focus on the meaning of information, not the technology that collects it), productivity of the knowledge worker (unlike manual workers, knowledge workers must be seen as capital assets, not costs), and finally the responsibilities that knowledge workers must assume in managing themselves and their careers.
Drucker's writing career spans eight decades and the years have only served to sharpen his insight and perspective in a way that makes most other management texts seem derivative. While Management Challenges for the 21st Century is no quick airplane read, it is a wise and thought-provoking book that will both challenge and inspire the diligent reader. This book is for people who care about their businesses and careers in the information age--CEOs, managers, and knowledge workers. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards
From Library Journal
In his 31st work, esteemed sociologist Drucker follows his last major management work, Post-Capitalist Society (LJ 2/15/93), with his ideas on how the concept of management is changing, focusing on the major critical issues, problems, practices, and strategies management faces in the new century. Instead of offering a futurist set of predictions, Drucker discusses major challenges facing management that are already manifest in todays rapidly changing world. In a sweeping macro-level analysis of social, economic, and demographic changes at work across the globe, Drucker outlines the changing role of management, the new realities of strategy, how to lead in times of great change, how to develop new information sources for effective decision-making, and how individual workers must assume responsibility for managing their own careers. With his trademark keen insight and his ability to see connections among disparate forces, this visionary thinker has again produced an essential book for all libraries, especially academic collections.Dale F. Farris, Groves, TX
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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In this context, in Chapter 5 of this invaluable book, Drucker focuses on knowledge worker. He says that "the most important, and indeed the truly unique, contribution of management in the 20th century was the fifty-fold increase in the productivity of the 'manual worker' in manufacturing. The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century is similarly to increase the productivity of 'knowledge work' and the 'knowledge worker.' The most valuable assets of a 20th-century company were its production equipment. The most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution, whether business or nonbusiness, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity."
Thus, he defines six major factors determine knowledge worker productivity as follows:
1. Knowledge worker productivity demands that we ask the question: "What is the task?"
2. It demands that we impose the responsibility for their productivity on the individual knowledge workers themselves. Knowledge workers have to manage themselves. They have to have authonomy.
3. Continuing innovation has to be part of the work, the task and the responsibility of knowledge workers.
4. Knowledge work requires continuous learning on the part of the knowledge worker, but equally continuous teaching on the part of the knowledge worker.
5. Productivity of the knowledge worker is not-at least not primarily-a matter of the quantity of output. Quality is at least as important.
6. Finally, knowledge worker productivity requires that the knowledge worker is both seen and treated as an "asset" rather than a "cost." It requires that knowledge workers want to work for the organization in preference to all other opportunities.
He argues that each of these requirements-except perhaps the last one-is almost the exact opposite of what is needed to increase the productivity of the manual worker.
Other superb books I recommend that I have recently read are Ponder's "The Leader's Guide: 15 Essential Skills," and any Ken Blanchard or Warren Bennis book.