Book Review: New Titles on Peter Drucker
Cohen, William A. A Class with Drucker: The lost lessons of the world’s greatest management teacher. AMACOM, 2007.
Edersheim, Elizabeth Haas. The Definitive Drucker. McGraw-Hill, 2007.
Peter Drucker is widely respected as one of the great thinkers on management. Throughout his career as teacher, writer, and philosopher he inspired students and business leaders alike with countless books and articles, lectures in the classroom, and informal conversations with friends and colleagues. Since his death in November 2005, several new books have been published, highlighting his wisdom, creativity and humor.
In A Class with Drucker, William Cohen shares stories and insights into Peter Drucker’s teaching methods, his inspiring ideas and his life experiences. He also relates personal anecdotes about Drucker and his life. As a PhD student at Claremont University, Cohen studied under Drucker, who was a gifted and passionate teacher. Cohen maintained a lifelong friendship with his mentor and created a personal tribute to the man who changed his life.
This reviewer’s favorite section of the book was the chapter about the value of ignorance. Drucker worked with companies worldwide, having little experience or knowledge in the relevant industries. He claimed that he brought his ignorance to the problems at hand, because ignorance is a key component for helping others solve a problem.
“Ignorance is not such a bad thing if one knows how to use it and all managers must learn how to do this. You must frequently approach problems with your ignorance; not what you think you know from past experience, because not infrequently, what you think you know is wrong.” p.59.
The value of ignorance is not even mentioned in a second new book about Peter Drucker’s ideas, In The Definitive Drucker by Elizabeth Haas Edersheim. Rather than being an omission by the author, this is a testament to the wide range of Drucker’s management thinking. Haas Edersheim’s book is a distillation of Drucker’s management concepts and summary of his views on current business practices and economic trends. The author uses real-world business examples from her own consulting practice, as well as Drucker’s, to highlight key themes in Drucker’s more recent writing. These themes include: Serving the customer; Capitalizing on opportunities; Innovation; Knowledge workers; and Leadership.
© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business. All rights reserved.