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by Peter F. Drucker

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-88730-998-4

The master of management theory (Managing for the Future, 1992, etc.) combines a succinct vision of what’s ahead with a condensed training course for weathering the change. Looking toward the future, Drucker analyzes the forces that will impact society and business and describes how the structure of organizations must change in order to deal with them. As a prelude to his outline for managing change (and changing management) he dismisses some concepts—for example, the idea that there is only a single correct organizational structure for a given situation. Drucker suggests considering the modern employee as a “volunteer,” motivated to work by a deeper power than the paycheck. Similarly, he states that in the modern workplace a more apt role for a manager is as “leader,” not boss. Other changes affecting business are the “crisscross” impact of technologies and the emergence of the “transnational” organization. Like most of Drucker’s two dozen or so previous works, this one goes beyond analysis to application. Two of the key arguments in his outline for action: companies need “change leaders” who see change as opportunity, and organizations must learn how to “exploit success.” Information technology, a major component of the coming century, is described through the historical perspective of the printing press, then updated with consideration of the Internet, a major new method for the distribution of information in printed form. Drucker believes that, just as traditional management was instrumental in increasing productivity for manual work, modern management must be transformed to play a similar part in the increase in the productivity for “knowledge work,” the biggest management challenge of the next century. Finally, he explains that as “individuals can expect to outlive organizations,” they must have unique responsibilities in order to survive, if not thrive. Invaluable advice for building a business bridge to the 21st century.