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Book Review: The Practice Of Management By Peter F. Drucker

1860 words - 7 pages

The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker. Harper & Row, 1954This book is divided into 6 main parts: Managing A Business; Managing Managers; The Structure Of Management; Management Of Workers And The Worker; What It Means To Be A Manager; and a conclusion.In Managing a Business, Drucker stresses the importance of the customer , not economic or market forces, in defining a business. He suggests that it is the customer, not forces, that converts economic resources into wealth, and things into goods. He states that "there is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer." (p.37) Drucker goes on to say that any business enterprise has two basic functions - marketing and innovation. I would argue that there should be other functions to add to this - what about technology or human resources?Drucker also discusses how a business should be managed - by objectives. Objectives should be set in 8 areas - market standing; innovation; productivity; physical and financial resources; profitability; management performance and development; worker performance and attitudes; and public responsibility. These eight areas would appear to be all encompassing however the last three areas are somewhat intangible and therefore would be difficult to measure performance by.In Managing Managers, Drucker gives the example of Henry Ford as a way of not managing an enterprise. Ford tried to run his company without the aid of managers and quashed any attempts by his subordinates to think freely and make business decisions. Supervisors were demoted if they tried to make decisions and a culture of mistrust and misrule was embraced. The result of this was that when he died, the company had no managers who could make decisions and plan for the company's future. Profitability was non-existent. Ford's successor brought in management from competitors and decentralized and empowered subordinates.In preventing a tyranny like that of Ford from occurring in other enterprises, Drucker suggests that management should be decentralized and managers should become management by objectives. He builds on this in the subsequent chapter titled "the spirit of an organization", by suggesting that companies should avoid kicking people upstairs or hoarding good people so as to ensure promotion by superior performance. He supported the philosophy of not entirely promoting from within - in the case of Ford and Sears, sometimes managers from the outside can bring a fresh perspective and new methods of managing.Drucker suggests that a good organization should make "common men do uncommon things" (p.144) and leadership is "the lifting of a man's vision to higher sights, [and] the raising of a man's performance to a higher standard" (p.159). Management should focus on a person's strengths, not their weaknesses. He stresses the role of a manager is not to make friends and influence people - that is salesmanship.In developing future managers, Drucker suggests that a firm takes a...

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