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Book Review: The Drucker Lectures

Essential Lessons on Management, Society, and Economy

I’ve recently read a book sent to me by McGraw-Hill called The Drucker Lectures: Essential Lessons on Management, Society and Economy (published by McGraw Hill, 2010). They thought I might be interested in reading this book and providing a review. They were so right! If you haven’t read it yet – pick it up today and start reading! It is essential for everyone – regardless of your line of work. The book was edited and is introduced by Rick Wartzman, Executive Director of The Drucker Institute. Consolidated in this one book are 33 of Drucker’s lectures – on everything from employment, technology, government, education, globalization and the economy spanning lectures in the 1940’s through to the early 2000’s.

What I found most interesting about the book was that what he spoke about in the 40’s is just as relevant today. Nothing in his lectures is outdated today in the least! In fact, organizations today would do well to read this compilation of Drucker’s lectures to understand how to pick up the pieces and move forward given our recent economic collapse. So much has stood out for me in this book and most particularly I remember from the book (and had a few interesting conversations with colleagues about this!) his lecture in 1971 on Politics and Economics of the Environment (page 49) which he delivered as part of a series of lectures at Claremont College: "We are on a collision course between environment and jobs, and I do not think we can afford it." Tell me that doesn’t hold true to this day. He talked in this lecture of his fear of people giving up on the environment because there’s been lots of talk but not much action. While certainly we see action today, is it enough? I wonder what Drucker would say to us today?

Throughout the book I have numerous highlights of such examples of statements made in lectures by Drucker that hit home for us today. In 2003, not that long ago, in one of his lectures at Claremont Graduate University entitled The Future of the Corporation IV (page 245) he makes the statement: "The present economic dominance of the United States is a transitory phenomenon, and it is already passing very fast."  Look at where we are today – countries coming up fast as dominant are China, South Korea, India – all are becoming dominant forces in a global economy and are poised to take over at some point. This is not necessarily a bad thing for the United States; but we, in the United States, need to learn how to work with these forces upon us to stay ahead of the curve. We can learn a lot from Drucker here and we may want to start paying attention.

Bottom line – I can go on and on with how the lectures in this book were fascinating and really struck a chord with me. I’ve already read it multiple times and have highlighted so many passages. Go out today and read it! This book shows us that being responsible and caring about those around us, the environment and other countries is all part of good business and those businesses that have this responsibility can and will succeed in today’s competitive global marketplace. If nothing else – let’s learn from Drucker that we must look at the good of the whole and that will allow us to succeed and provide a brighter and compelling future for generations to come.

A must read! Great job by Rick Wartz in pulling together some of the most relevant and fascinating lectures of Peter Drucker.

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