Room with a View|Feb 15, 2006 12:42 PM| by:

Peter Drucker and the Future of Management

A great mind of the modern world, Peter Drucker, passed away recently.  The celebrated management guru, considered as the “Father of Modern Management” was in his late 90s when he left his body.  But his mind was fresh and a source of clarity for professionals as well as thinkers in Management.

There are two types of prophets or visionaries.  First are the idealistic type who can foresee the long-term future possibilities in the realms of ideal mind and spirit.  The second are the pragmatic type who have a usable insight into the immediate future possibilities and the present actualities of life.  Peter Drucker belongs to the second type, a visionary whose writings are classics of pragmatic insight.  Some of his perceptions are simple but with profound pragmatic implications for business.  For example, he is the first management thinker to point out that the purpose of a business organisation is not making profit but to serve the customer.  Take care of the customer, said Drucker, profits will take care of itself.  A simple perception and also a startling one.  But as the corporate world started putting into practice Drucker’s perceptions, the relation between customer satisfaction and profitability became increasingly evident.  We will not enter here into any discussion on the life and thought of Peter Drucker, but indicate briefly two interesting perceptions pointing out towards the future of Management.

At present, Business and Management are going through an evolutionary transition.  Globalisation of business has added new complexities which require a synthesis of the global realities with the needs of the local environment and culture, in other words, what is now known as the “global” approach.  In the inner or “people” dimension, an increasing number of people in the corporate world, especially the creative and talented, are seeking for something more than money and career, for an inner fulfilment in the mental, moral or spiritual spheres.  These emerging trends in business demand a new approach to Management which can lead to an integral fulfilment of all these trends of the future.

Peter Drucker, always prophetic and perceptive, has thrown some luminous hints which may perhaps provide us with some clues to a new approach to Management.  In one of his definitions of Management, he says : “Management… deals with people, their values, their growth, and development, social structure, the community and even with spiritual concerns”.  Here the “Father of modern Management” gives an indication of the main factors which will shape global business and management of the future…. people, values, growth and development or evolution and spirituality.  But Peter Drucker is also perceptive enough to understand the fact that Globalisation will not make local or national realities irrelevant.  He wrote : “If management does not leverage the specific cultural heritage of a country and people, social and economic development is unlikely to take place”.  As the anti-globalisation activists and the NGO movements have repeatedly emphasised, what is now called “globalisation” in business is predominantly a Western cultural phenomenon driven by Western values.  So, any attempt to impose this Westernised globalism uniformly on all nations or communities, ignoring or suppressing the unique cultural environment and heritage of the nation or community is not likely to be successful or effective in the long run.

Thus, the new management paradigm of the future has to be at once global and national, spiritual and secular.  It has to be global in the sense that it must be based on the universal principles and values of Man, life and Nature.  It has to be also national to unleash the unique creative genius of the local population.  It has to be spiritual because future evolution of humanity will be predominantly an inner spiritual evolution towards a higher consciousness beyond the rational mind.  Finally, it must be also secular because the spirituality of the future will not be a negative or exclusive spirituality which denies the secular and worldly life; it will be a world-embracing spirituality which will make the attempt to illumine and uplift every activity of the secular life of man to a deeper and higher level of consciousness.

—M.S. Srinivasan

(Editor’s Note: You can also refer to for a very interesting talk by Peter Drucker titled: My Life as a Knowledge Worker)