The Definitive Drucker (review: 2.5/5)

It’s almost always the anecdotes that bore me in business books. The Definite Drucker is a sort biography of the ideas of Peter Drucker, the late consultant and management guru. I like a lot of the theory and philosophy, but when we get to the struggles of Motorola’s supply chain or decreasing overhead at Colgate-Palmolive, I tune out a little bit.
But it’s not at all hard to cherry-pick some good stuff, and Drucker is full of good ideas. Here’s one line in particular that I’d really like to bust out in a meeting: “What would it take for us to seriously consider this idea?”

There’s another interesting bit about specializing in what you’re good in, “core competencies” if you must. The analogy is to distinguish between your “front room” and “back room”. The last line is great:

The first step in structuring a collaboration is to identify your company’s ‘front room,’ which Peter defiined as your strengths, or the activity that is most important for you to do—that which stirs your passion and shows off your excellence. Everything else is your backroom, and it can be almost everything. One of Peter’s famous quotes is, ‘the only thing you have to do is marketing and innovation.’

If you’re sufficiently focused, “the only thing you have to do is marketing and innovation.” What a great goal.

The last little tidbit I really liked is about management style, bureaucracy, and decision-making. Again, the last line is fantastic:

It is part of our basic strategy to maintain the kind of working atmosphere that is attractive to the high-talent people we need to serve our clients well. Such an approach should include a philosophy of relying on autonomy and responsible self-government by the individual just as far as we can. Operationally, this means that the burden of proof should always rest with the proponent of centralized control and bureaucratic rules.

Update: Oh, and one more line that I twittered the other day: “It is good to do one thing right. Don’t do too much.”