Review of Peter Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions: Enduring Wisdom for Today’s Leaders
My attraction to and deep respect for Peter Drucker started over 40 years ago while I was reading his classic, best-seller, The Effective Executive. A few years later I established Effectiveness, Inc based on his philosophy to help business leaders and professionals to optimize their effectiveness. My passion is continuously refining and implementing The Effectiveness Coach® Approach based on Drucker’s timeless principles.
This special edition of Peter Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions is filled with insightful guidance and stirring inspiration. This book is a solution for today’s leaders and aspiring talent who are looking for a management resource with a simple method to help them think through what they are doing, why they are doing it, and what they must do to be successful. Complex and compelling, the questions are as essential as they are relevant and can be applied to any organization.
It starts with the fundamental question “What is our mission?” With the other four questions, you will find a guide through the process of assessing how well you are doing, ending with a measurable, results-focused strategic plan to further the mission and to achieve the organization’s goals, guided by the vision.
The other questions Drucker poses are:
Who is our customer?
What does the customer value
What are our results?
What is our plan?
Drucker’s philosophy is as relevant for meeting today’s business challenges and opportunities as it was when it was first developed in the mid-twentieth century. The concepts and framework are applicable across every sector, within every industry as well as the classroom.
There are 20 contributors including Jim Collins, Marshall Goldsmith, and Judith Rodin, the book features new insights from some of today’s most influential leaders in business (GE and Salesforce.com), academia (Harvard Business School and Northwestern University), social enterprise (Levo League, Pencils of Promise and Why Millennials Matter) and the military (United States Military Academy), who have been directly influenced by Drucker’s theory of management.
Notable Insights, Comments, and Practical Application
In his later years Drucker worked closely with many notable not-for-profit organizations and churches. I have had the privilege of working with many of them over the years and find these five questions very relevant. Here are some excerpts from a blog by Dr. James Emery White senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as the fourth president.
“Mention the name Peter Drucker in management circles, and a hushed silence will fall as your peers wait to see if you might have even a nugget of his wisdom that has not already been disseminated for consumption.”
Dr. White continues with the following application of Drucker’s Five Questions to non-profits and churches:
1. What Is Our Mission?
Years ago Drucker sat down with the administrators of a major hospital to think through the mission of the emergency room. They began by saying, “Our mission is health care.” Drucker told them that was the wrong definition. The hospital does not take care of health; the hospital takes care of illness. Eventually they determined that their mission was: “To give assurance to the afflicted.”
2. Who Is Our Customer?
No matter what you call them – customer, student, patient, participant, volunteer, donor or member – you have someone you are trying to reach; someone you are trying to serve. As Drucker puts it: “Who must be satisfied for the organization to achieve results?”
3. What Does the Customer Value?
When you ask what a customer values, you are asking what satisfies their needs, wants and aspirations. So for a church, perhaps the most telling question is what a person far from God values when it comes to exploring God.
4. What Are Our Results?
In a penetrating assessment, Drucker notes that one of the most important questions for nonprofit leadership is: “Do we produce results that are sufficiently outstanding for us to justify putting our resources in this area?” This shift in thinking – from “needs” to “results” – may be among the most challenging areas for leaders to grapple.
5. What Is Our Plan?
Everything about self-assessment should lead to a plan – a plan that encompasses mission, vision, goals, objectives, action steps, a budget and appraisal. And be careful with goals. Classic Drucker: “If you have more than five goals, you have none.”
About The Authors
The late Peter Ferdinand Drucker (1909 -2005), known worldwide as the “Father of Modern Management,” was a professor, management consultant, and writer. Drucker directly influenced a huge number of leaders from a wide range of organizations across all sectors of society. Among them: General Electric, IBM, Intel, Procter & Gamble, Girl Scouts of the USA, The Salvation Army, Red Cross, United Farm Workers, and several presidential administrations.
Frances Hesselbein, a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, is the president and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute (formerly the Leader to Leader Institute) and editor-in-chief of the award-winning quarterly journal, Leader to Leader, as well as co-editor of 27 books translated into 29 languages.
Joan Snyder Kuhl, founder of Why Millennials Matter, is an international speaker, leadership trainer, and consultant specializing in global talent development and generational engagement strategies.
Peter Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions: Enduring Wisdom for Today’s Leaders is available at Amazon for $11.77 (144 pages: hardcover). To Order Click Here