This morning I woke up during a 2.7 magnitude microearthquake. According to the reports the epicenter was 2 miles NW of Santa Rosa and 7 miles from our house in Sebastopol. I wasn’t really sure why I woke up so early until I turned the radio on while making coffee in the kitchen.
But what really shook me up was hearing that Peter Drucker had passed away Friday, November 11, 2005. Drucker is survived by his wife, Doris, and four children. He was 95.
Even though I never sat in one of his classrooms I still consider him as one of my most respected teachers. Over the years I have read many articles and a number of books by Peter Drucker: The New Realities, Post-Capitalist Society, The Effective Executive and Managing for the Future. I admired his brilliance and that he placed the role of empowerment at the center of his work as an academic and leader. “At the heart of everything I have done has been the thought of enabling others, getting the roadblocks out of the way, out of their thinking and their systems, to enable them to become all that they can be.”
My first exposure to Drucker’s prophetic thinking was when I read his book New Realities in 1989. One of the most profound things in this book was the fact that he predicted the fall of the Soviet Union and the eventual coup. Two years after the publishing of this book tensions in the Soviet Union came to a head and in August 1991 a group of right wing military and KGB leaders staged a coup in Moscow. On Christmas Day of 1991, in the aftermath of the failed coup, the Soviet Union officially ended its own existence, marking the end of over 70 years of repression and 45 years of Soviet-American conflict.
Although he is said to have coined the term "knowledge worker" long before the information age was a cliché, Drucker did not consider himself a prophet; he was “just” reading the times. From an article in Inc. Magazine, Newt Gingrich is quoted as saying, “Drucker, like Adam Smith, is essentially a philosopher of reality. He looks at what is really happening in the market in economic, historical, and political terms, and then he makes sense of it all. Drucker's work is about far more than management or the production of wealth. It is about the process by which people lead productive and useful lives and produce greater opportunities and greater resources for themselves and their fellow man. Some of his ideas are timeless and will likely be as useful 200 years from now as Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations is today.”
Some other books that I have read along the same lines are Alvin Toffler’s, Future Shock, Max Dublin’s, Futurehype and a collection of essays edited by Albert Teich, Technology and the Future.
Of course, Peter Drucker has long been called a business-guru, he was widely thought of as a management visionary for his recognition that devoted employees are the secret to the success of any corporation, and that concern for “marketing and innovation” should come before worries about finances.
We often use the terms leadership and management interchangeably, they are distinctly different yet complementary in their approaches to action. In fact it is difficult to have one without the other, although a good manager will probably have more success than a leader without management skills. Without management organizations cannot function long in the chaos of disorganization. In the same respect, because of the changing paradigms in business and society in general, without leaders organizations will fail to grow with the times. “We have learned to innovate because we cannot expect the accumulated competence, skill, knowledge, product, services, and structure of the present will be adequate for long” (Drucker, 339).
In Drucker’s later writings he showed great concern for non-profits. He was not only an innovative thinker; he was also a man of faith. His concerns for society and how organizations should act certainly reflected this. Max De Pree said, "Over the years, Peter has proven to me that his humanity matches his intellect. Peter's concern for me as a person, his leadership, and his guidance have been among my life's greatest blessings." The Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation has been given annually since 1991.
Peter F. Drucker Memorial Service Announced:
In Memory of Peter Drucker, Saturday, December 10, 2005
The Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University cordially invites you to a memorial service honoring the life of Peter Drucker on Saturday, December 10th at 3 p.m. at Little Bridges Auditorium (150 East 4th Street in Claremont). An informal reception will follow at 4 p.m. at which time attendees may capture their memories of Peter Drucker on video as part of the legacy project for the Drucker Institute (formerly the Peter F. Drucker Research Library and Archive).