The International Writers Magazine:Comment
complete phrase is: Who needs politicians when we have Peter
Drucker. If I remember correctly, the anonymous person who
made the statement was lecturing to us engineering students many
moons ago on the need to replace political thinking within governments
with plain common sense business management. Our lecturer
continued: This illustrious thinker has more insight into
the future of national economics than most of our mediocre governors
of today regardless of their ideological creed.
The late Peter Drucker
Naturally, we were
all eager at the time to find out more about who the hell he was talking
Peter Drucker was born in Vienna, Austria at the turn of the last century
and was educated in Austria, England and Germany. He majored in international
law in Frankfurt, but returned to London to work in international banking
as one of the banks economists. Sensing the looming doom-clouds
hovering over Europe, Peter Drucker followed the path of many anti-Nazi
Europeans and immigrated to the United States in 1937. An outstanding
scholar and as our tutor said, a brilliant forward thinker, he became
one of the leading experts in management theory with more than thirty
books to his credit, translated into 20 languages. He won several awards
and honorary degrees bestowed upon by various US and other institutions
around the world. I remember some of his works, in particular his simplistic
reasoning on how to run business and his consistent emphasis on the
human element of management. In his book The Effective Executive his
opening statement was, how can I best serve? He was the
grandfather of modern marketing skills; an awesome model difficult to
Peter Drucker passed away on November 11th at the ripe old age of 95.
He left a widow, four children and six grandchildren. Not many news
correspondents reported his death. After all, he was part of the elite
business echelon of America. The masses were uninterested in millionaire
icons, let alone their mentors. Yet more than one prominent CEO publicly
stated his or her grievance at the departure of one of the true instructors
of entrepreneurial hindsight who never departed from either logic or
ethics in his messages of management philosophy. From all exerts written
about his death the following from Rita Sussmuth is probably the most
fitting. I quote: Democracy thrives from the participation and
active involvement of the social sector; of individuals of community
and of civil society. Peter Drucker had gone beyond merely recognizing
the high value of the social sector; he had worked to improve its effectiveness,
strengthening society as whole.
So why am I writing about this guy and whats he got to do with
If you write as a columnist in any public media you are always exposed
to criticism; its part of the price you pay for voicing your opinion.
Ive been writing a weekly piece in my local rag for just under
a year and one day I decided to transpose some of Peter Druckers
theories of management onto a political platform in an article entitled,
Are politicians obsolete? In it I assumed that if countries,
regions or even town councils were considered as companies, run by managers
and not politicians the world would be better off. Using Druckers
basic management principles I kicked off by assuming that all citizens
or at least tax payers were the shareholders whilst presidents, prime
ministers or tribal chiefs and corresponding ministers were the board
of governors. Business would be carried out by proper plans based on
profit and loss accounting and expert financial planning and budgeting.
The day to day running process would be no different to that of a large
corporation. I concluded by comparing the curriculum vitae of certain
present day political leaders to that of a standard advertisement in
a management magazine for a top corporate executive. The former just
didnt fit the bill.
Ive rarely had anybody comment on my work until I wrote this essay.
I got hammered. A reader commented that I had no idea of the role of
politicians in a democratic society. How dare I compare Capitalism
with Socialism! Who was I to insinuate that politicians
had no idea how to run a country?
Not because my article compared the similarities of management theories
to those of government but because I dared to question the irrelevance
of political rhetoric between different ideologies that in effect had
no real impact on the daily life of ordinary citizens in supposedly
democratic societies. I inadvertently implied that politicians the world
over were either crooked, stupid, naive or incompetent, but what is
worse, nobody ever held them accountable. I unfortunately touched a
nerve because I used the handling of the Iraq war as an example.
Picture the scenario whereby George Bush and Spains Prime Minister,
Rodríguez Zapatero are reviewing the Iraq war. They are businessmen
and not politicians.
George, weve got a board meeting next week and our profits
in Iraq are down by 30%. In fact were already in the red. I suggest
we pull out of the area and invest in North Korea instead, said
Condoleeza Rice. Shucks woman, replies George, you
dont have to keep reminding me. Ive seen the figures. Were
losing customers like flies. Dicks been lousing it up and Ive
tried to sack him but theres this damn clause in his contract.
It would cost us billions!
How about floating Iraq Inc. on the European stock markets? You
know, with luck the Brits might buy us out. Maybe form a joint venture
with the Italians.
Nah! The Germans and the French would slap their damn veto on
the table; besides theres too much competition coming from Jordan
and Syria. Their bomb production far outweighs ours and is much cheaper.
We do have an option, sir.
What is it? Condoleeza picks up the phone and hands it to
George. With a broad smile she says, Ive got Ariel on the
line. Let him fill you in.
ZP, the yanks have broken the contract! Theyve been sending
us false reports on the production figures in Iraq. All the items on
the list, you know, nuclear bombs, poisonous gas supplies are wrong!
said Sr. Moratinos, his Overseas Export Manager. You mean to say
that we sent our installation team complete, with demolition tools out
there and they havent any raw material to work on? What about
Their credits run out Im afraid. Theyre so broke
they dont even leave their houses to go to the store.
OK. Well rescind the contract, bring the team back. Well
take our case to the International Stock Exchange Tribunal for the rebates.
What about our other partners; the Brits, the Poles and the rest?
To hell with them! We cant afford to lose any more money.
Besides, Im due for promotion soon, you know, Chairman of the
Board. Im not going to screw up this time.
I can only assume Drucker would appreciate this small dose of humour
as I humbly interpolate his wise teachings to that of todays insane
© James Skinner. December 15 2005.
James is a weekly columnist based in Vigo Spain
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