No single person has influenced the course of business in the 20th century as much as Peter Drucker. He practically invented management as a discipline in the 1950s, elevating it from an ignored, even despised, profession into a necessary institution that "reflects the basic spirit of the modern age." Now, in Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Drucker looks at the profound social and economic changes occurring today and considers how management--not government or free markets--should orient itself to address these new realities.
Drucker sees the period we're living in as one of "PROFOUND TRANSITION--and the changes are more radical perhaps than even those that ushered in the 'Second Industrial Revolution' of the middle of the 19th century, or the structural changes triggered by the Great Depression and the Second World War." In the midst of all this change, he contends, there are five social and political certainties that will shape business strategy in the not-too-distant future: the collapsing birthrate in the developed world; shifts in distribution of disposable income; a redefinition of corporate performance; global competitiveness; and the growing incongruence between economic and political reality. Drucker then looks at requirements for leadership ("One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it"), the characteristics of the "new information revolution" (one should focus on the meaning of information, not the technology that collects it), productivity of the knowledge worker (unlike manual workers, knowledge workers must be seen as capital assets, not costs), and finally the responsibilities that knowledge workers must assume in managing themselves and their careers.
Drucker's writing career spans eight decades and the years have only served to sharpen his insight and perspective in a way that makes most other management texts seem derivative. While Management Challenges for the 21st Century is no quick airplane read, it is a wise and thought-provoking book that will both challenge and inspire the diligent reader. This book is for people who care about their businesses and careers in the information age--CEOs, managers, and knowledge workers. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards [via]