The Daily Drucker

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A dream will remain a dream, not a goal, as long as there is no action plan in place. Even when there is an action plan in place, for a goal to be quickly accomplished, there is need for a timetable that must be seriously stuck to. A timetable contains what is to be done each day, week, month and year. Many people and organisations fail to achieve their goal just because they cannot effectively manage their time well. Therefore, the resolve of Peter Drucker to offer such people and organisations enduring textual solutions through this book entitled “The Daily Drucker”, with the subtitle “366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done” is commendable.

Drucker is considered to be the top management thinker alive today. He has authored more than 35 books and his ideas have had a great impact on shaping the modern corporation. In 2002, Drucker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is a writer, teacher, philosopher, reporter and consultant as well as a professor at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management, Claremont Graduate University.

Drucker says this text is intended to offer an answer as it presents in an organised form, and directly from his own writings, key statements of his, followed by a few lines from his works on topics covering many fields of his work. Some of these fields are management, business, world economy, entrepreneurship, etc. He explains that the most important part of this book is the blank spaces at the bottom of its pages. Drucker says these blank spaces are what the readers will contribute, their actions, decisions and the results of these decisions. He discloses that this book owes everything to Professor Joseph Maciariello, his longtime friend and colleague, whose idea it was to assemble in one volume the best excerpts from his (Drucker’s) writings.

The text contains day-to-day aggregation of Drucker’s valuable wisdom and offers the inspiration with which to tackle various challenges of life. This text is divided into 12 parts of 366 concepts, covering 12 months of the year and 366 days of a Leap Year.

Part one is temporally christened “January” and contains 31 concepts based on the number of days in the month. The first-day concept is tagged “Integrity in leadership”. Here, this author says the proof of the sincerity and seriousness of a management is uncompromising emphasis on integrity of character. He expatiates that this has to be symbolised in management’s ‘people’ decisions.

Drucker stresses that it is through character that leadership is exercised and it is character that sets the example that is imitated. Character, according to him, is not something one can fool people about. He asserts that the people you work with, especially subordinates, know in a few weeks whether or not you have integrity. In Drucker’s words, “They may forgive a person for a great deal: incompetence, ignorance, insecurity, or bad manners. But they will not forgive a lack of integrity in that person. Nor will they forgive higher management for choosing him.”

This management expert adds that this is particularly true of the people at the head of an enterprise. He stresses that this is because the spirit of an organisation is created from the top. Drucker reveals that if an organisation is great in spirit, it is because the spirit of its top people is great. He adds that if reverse is the case, it is simply because the spirit of its top people is low. “No one should ever be appointed to a senior position unless top management is willing to have his or her character serve as the model for subordinates,” advises Drucker.

The second-day concept is based on the subject matter of identifying the future. Here, this author says futurists always measure their batting average by counting how many things they have predicted that have come true. He expatiates that such people never count the number of many important things that come true that they did not predict.

Drucker asserts that everything a forecaster predicts may come to pass even though he (the forecaster) may not have the most meaningful of the emergent realities or, worse still, may not have paid attention to them.

The third-day concept is entitled “Management is indispensable”. Drucker educates that management will remain a basic and dominant institution, stressing that management is not only grounded in the nature of the modern industrial system and in the needs of modern business enterprise, to which an industrial system must entrust its productive resources, both human and material.

In days four to 31, this author examines concepts such as organisational inertia; abandonment; practice of abandonment; knowledge workers as assets; autonomy in knowledge work; the new corporation’s persona; management as the alternative to tyranny; management and theology; practice coming first; management and the liberal arts; the managerial attitude; the spirit of an organisation, etc.

Part two is generically and temporally labelled “February” and covers 29 concepts based on the number of days in the month of February of a Leap Year. The first- and second-day concepts are based on the subject matters of crossing the divide and facing reality respectively. The third-day concept is entitled “The management revolution”.

Drucker says in 1881, an American, Frederick Winslow Taylor first applied knowledge to the study of work, the analysis of work and the engineering of work. This author adds that this led to the productivity revolution which has become a victim of its own success. Drucker stresses that from now on, what matters is the productivity of non-manual workers, and that requires applying knowledge to knowledge.

“But knowledge is now being applied systematically and purposefully to define what new knowledge is needed, whether it is feasible, and what has to be done to make knowledge effective. It is being applied, in other words, to systematic innovation. This third change in the dynamics of knowledge can be called the Management Revolution,” educates this author. He asserts that supplying knowledge to find out how existing knowledge can best be applied to produce results is what we mean by management.

In days four to 29, Drucker discusses concepts such as knowledge and technology; shrinking of the younger population; the transnational company; the educated person; balanced continuity and change; organisations destabilising communities; modern organisations as destabilisers; human factor in management; role of the bystander; the nature of freedom; demands on political leadership; salvation by society, etc.

Parts three to eight, which sequentially and temporally cover March to August examine concepts such as the change leader; management as a human endeavour; managing knowledge workers; managing oneself; theory of the business and diversification respectively. March covers 31 concepts; April covers 30 concepts; May, 31 concepts; June, 30 concepts; July, 31 concepts and August, 31 concepts based on the number of days in each of the months.

Part nine is entitled “September” and contains 30 concepts based on the number of days in the month. The first-day concept is based on the subject matter of having knowledge of your time. Drucker says, ” ‘Know thyself’, the old prescription for wisdom, is almost impossibly difficult for mortal men. But everyone can follow the injunction ‘Know thy time’ if one wants to, and be well on the road toward contribution and effectiveness. Most discussions of the executive’s task start with the advice to plan one’s work. This sounds eminently plausible. The only thing wrong with it is that it rarely works. The plans always remain on paper, always remain good intentions.”

The second-day concept is christened “Record time and eliminate time wasters”. Here, this expert explains that the first step towards executive effectiveness is to record actual time use. He adds that there are executives who keep such a time log themselves, saying others have their secretaries do it for them. In Drucker’s words, “A good many effective executives keep such a log continuously and look at it regularly every month. After each such sample, they rethink and rework their schedule.”

In days three to 30, this management expert examines concepts such as time consolidation; practices of effective executives; focusing on contribution; performance appraisals; how to develop people; knowledge worker as effective executive; taking responsibility for your career; defining one’s performance; results that make a difference; managing oneself; managing the boss, etc.

Parts 10 to 12 temporally cover October to December. October has 31 concepts based on the number of days in it. Some of the concepts articulated here are: pursuing perfection; decision objectives; decision-making; the right compromise; building action into the decision; organising dissent; elements of the decision process; necessity of a decision; classifying the problem, etc.

As regards November, this has 30 ideas based on its number of days. Some of the ideas discussed here are organisational agility; business intelligence systems; gathering and using intelligence; the text of intelligence information; the future budget; winning strategies; the failed strategy; strategic planning, etc. December contains 31 concepts. Some of these are: the work of the social ecologist; turbulent times ahead; the new entrepreneur; information on cost and value; price-led costing; obstacles to economic-chain costing, etc.

Stylistically, this text is unique as it is rigidly temporal. Drucker segments the book into 12 parts of 366 days, representing 12 months of the year and 366 days of a Leap Year. By segmenting the concepts into 366 days of a Leap Year, this author is able to challenge readers on the need to make every day count. By focusing on 366 days instead of the normal 365 days, Drucker is indirectly according special temporal relevance to February, which is a natural temporal euphemism for incompleteness or mediocrity, especially in motivational talks.

He adds the Action Point section, a very interactive section, where he asks questions; provides additional information or elicits action from the readers. To achieve linguistic preservation of archaism, he uses expressions such as “Know thy time”; “Know thyself”, etc., on page 269. What’s more, this text is conceptually eclectic as it contains extracts from Drucker’s works on topics covering many fields.

However, one very technical syntax error is noticed in the text on page xiii, the Introduction to the book. The error is “… Peter Drucker has woven and continues to weave” instead of including a comma thus: “… Peter Drucker has woven, and continues to weave”. In this compound sentence normally marked by structural ellipsis, a comma is supposed to be used before “And”, a coordinating junction of adding, to terminate the participial transformation or “perfective” effect that the primary auxiliary verb “Has” should syntactically have on the second verb “Continue” in the compound sentence. By not adding the comma before “And” to naturally terminate the effect of “Has” on “Continue” so that it can function directly with the subject of the sentence, that is, “Peter Drucker”, it is assumed that “graphological” (punctuation) deviation has been committed in Stylistics, another area of English Language.

On a note of analytical finality, this text is encyclopedic. It is a book that individuals and organisations thirty for enduring achievements need to have.