Pathways to business wisdom

By Mannaz

Peter Drucker, who died in 2006 at the age of 97, was a living legend, one of the world’s most respected thinkers on management and society. His thinking inspired many business leaders from around the world, as well as in the non-profit sector, while influencing companies both large and small. Over six decades, as a journalist, teacher, consultant, and author of more than thirty-five books from his publishers Harper Collins, Drucker made management theory a respected discipline. He had a brimming lifetime of wisdom to share and expertise that reached well beyond the confines of the world´s largest companies.

Drucker was born in Vienna in 1090. He stdied law in Germany, then moved to England to escape Nazism and later to the United States. In 1945, his book Concetion of the Corporation, base on two-year study of General Motors, became an instant best-seller. Beginning in 1971, he taught management at Claremont Graduate University in California, which i 1987 named its scholl of management after him. He was the ultimate guru to generations of executives and students of management theory. Here is a brief anthology of Drucker’s thoughts on how organisations succeed and why they may fail.


Results exist only on the outside
“The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that results exist only on the outside. The results of a business are satisfied customers. The result of a hospital is a healed patient. The result of a school is a student who has learned something and puts it to work ten years later. Inside an enterprise, there are only costs.”

From: The New Realities

Untapped human potential
“Managers are fond of saying ‘Our greatest asset is people.‘ They are fond of repeating the truism that the only real difference between one organization and another is the performance of people. All other resources one organization commands to exactly the same extent as does any other. And most managers know perfectly well that of all the resources, people are the least utilized and that little of the human potential of any organization is tapped and put to work constructively.“

From: Management

Two missing elements
“Two of the missing elements in most management procedures are first, that the manager hasn´t been asked what information he needs to be able to do the job he has committed himself to, and second, he hasn´t been asked what information he needs in order to know how well he´s doing it. Hence, people bitterly complain that they would like to manage themselves by objectives, but they can’t. Most of the time the answers to both questions could be written on the back of an envelope. There are very few answers in life that can´t be written on the back of an envelope.”

From: The Practice of Management

What is our business?

“That business purpose and business mission are so rarely given adequate thought is perhaps the most important single cause of business frustration and business failure. Conversely, in outstanding businesses, success always rests to a large extent on raising the question ‘What is our business?’ clearly and deliberatively, and on answering it thoughtfully and thoroughly. But there is also a need to ask ‘What should our business be?’ What opportunities are opening up or can be created to fulfill the purpose and mission of the business by making it into a different business?”

From: Management


Business strategies for tomorrow
“Any institution needs to think strategically about what its business is doing and what it should be doing. It needs to think through what its customers pay it for. Every institution needs to think through what its strengths are. Are they the right strengths for its specific business? Are they deployed where they will produce results? And what specifically is the market for this particular business, both at the present time and in the years immediately ahead.”

“Most businesses and public service institutions believe it is possible to be a ‘leader’ in every area. But strengths are always specific, always unique. One gets paid only for strengths, one does not get paid for weaknesses. The question, therefore, is first: “What are our specific strengths?” And then: “Are they the right strengths?”

From: Managing in Turbulent Times

On setting priorities
“No business can do everything. Even if it has the money, it will never have enough good people. It has to set priorities. The worst thing is to try to do a little bit of everything. This ensures that nothing is being accomplished. It is better to pick the wrong priority than none at all, and, courage rather than analysis dictates the truly important role for identifying priorities: Aim to:

  • Pick the future as against the past.
  • Focus on opportunity rather than on problems.
  • Choose your own direction rather than climb on the bandwagon; and
  • Aim high, aim for something that will make a difference, rather than for something that is ‘safe’ and easy to do.”

From: The Effective Executive

On risk
“Of course, innovation is risky. But so is stepping into the car to drive to the supermarket for a loaf of bread. All economic activity is by definition high risk. And defending yesterday – that is, not innovating – is far more risky than making tomorrow.”

From: Innovation and Entrepreneurship

No apology needed
“No apology is needed for profit as a necessity of economy and society. On the contrary, what a businessman should feel guilty about, what he should feel the need to apologize for, is failure to produce a profit appropriate to the economic and social functions which profit, and only profit, can develop.”

From: Management

Lifelong Learning
“The innovative organization requires a learning atmosphere throughout the entire business. It creates and maintains continuous learning. No one is allowed to consider himself ‘finished’ at any time. Learning is a continuous process for all members of the organization.”

“Nonperformers are often – and perhaps in most cases – not ‘duds’. They are only in the wrong place – the proverbial square peg in the round hole. They belong elsewhere, where what they can do is needed and contributes. It is the manager’s job, especially with the young knowledge worker, to think through where a nonperformer might be productive and effective, and to say, “You are in the wrong business – you belong there.”

From: Management

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”

Predicting the future
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Disponível em: <>. Acesso em 17 mai. 2009


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