UPFRONT Management guru dies

Revered as the father of modern management, Peter Drucker was, until he died last month at the age of 95, still working, still writing, still giving interviews. He shared some excerpts from his “lifetime of wisdom” with Management readers in our thought leadership series published last month.
One of the first to see corporate success as dependent on the collective input of individual employees – rather than on top-down, command and control style of management tactics, Drucker spent most of life in business, as he puts it “looking at people, not machines or buildings”.
Born in Vienna, he earned doctorate in international law while working as reporter in Frankfurt where he remained until one of his essays was banned by the Nazi regime. He moved first to London and then, in 1937, to the United States where he taught politics and philosophy and started studying the corporate structure at General Motors. That study became the subject of book, Concept of the Corporation, in 1946 – one of more than 30 titles (and countless articles) he authored on society, economics and politics as well as management.
After teaching business management at New York University for 20 years he moved to the Claremont Graduate School in California (later named the Drucker Graduate University in his honour). He was 61 and at the start of three highly productive decades both in terms of his own writing and his influence on management thinking. In 1997 Forbes magazine featured him on its cover describing the then 87-year-old as “still the youngest mind”. In 2002 he was honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and just last year he published The Daily Drucker: 366 days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done.
As well as being recognised as an intellectual leader, Drucker was often described as gentle humourist. At the conclusion of the interview we published last month, he was asked about his thoughts on death and the afterlife. His response: “I happen to be very conventional, very traditional Christian. Period. I don’t think about it. I’m told it’s not my job to think about it. My job is to say, ‘Yes, sir’.”

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