The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker (1954)

The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker was the first book to look at management as a whole and being a manager as a separate responsibility. A classic since its publication in 1954, The Practice of Management created the discipline of modern management practices. Readable, fundamental, and basic, it remains an essential book for students, aspiring managers, and seasoned professionals.

An excerpt from 'The Practice of Management' by Peter F. Drucker. (Credit: Luke MacKay)

An excerpt from ‘The Practice of Management’ by Peter F. Drucker. (Credit: Luke MacKay)

This is a practical book, written out of many years of experience in working with managements of small, medium and large corporations. It aims to be a management guide, enabling readers to examine their own work and performance, to diagnose their weaknesses and to improve their own effectiveness as well as the results of the enterprise they are responsible for.

Drucker is considered the most influential management thinker ever. The author of more than twenty-five books, his ideas have had an enormous impact on shaping the modern corporation. Drucker passed away in 2005.

So, why would an internet marketing instructor read a management book that was published 60 years ago?

I’m a member of the Executive Education faculty at the Rutgers Business School. I’m one of the “industry experts” selected for their current expertise in specific areas. I teach classes in the Mini-MBA: Digital Marketing, Mini-MBA: Social Media Marketing, Online Mini-MBA: Digital Marketing, and Online Mini-MBA: Social Media Marketing programs.

I’m also a member of the “Dream Team faculty” at Market Motive. Our curriculum is used by higher education institutions like Duke, Benedictine, and Polk State College, to supplement their classroom training, and to enhance their Community Education catalogs. I teach the Content Marketing Certificate Course and the YouTube and Video Marketing Short Course.

I’ve been teaching a variety of internet marketing courses since 2007 and I’ve taught dozens of them each year. And one of the lessons that I’ve learned is this: Teaching new marketing skills to students and professionals is easy; shifting old marketing paradigms within their organizations is hard.

As Columbus discovered, training the crews of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria how to reach the East Indies by sailing westward wasn’t really that difficult. The real challenge was convincing King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that the three ships that he wanted to use in his first voyage wouldn’t fall off the edge of the world.

That’s why I recently read The Practice of Management. This classic volume achieves a remarkable width of appeal without sacrificing scientific accuracy or depth of analysis. It is a valuable contribution to the study of business efficiency which should be read by anyone wanting information about the developments and place of management, and it is as relevant today as when it was first written.

Here are half a dozen quotations from The Practice of Management that I could use in any one of the internet marketing courses that I teach today:

  • There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer. (Page 37)
  • Free enterprise cannot be justified as being good for business. It can be justified only as being good for society. (Page 41)
  • The days of the ‘intuitive’ manager are numbered. (page 93)
  • The better a man is, the more mistakes will he make – for the more new things he will try. I would never promote a man into a top level job who had not made mistakes, and big ones at that. Otherwise he is sure to be mediocre. (Page 147)
  • It does not follow from the separation of planning and doing in the analysis of work that the planner and the doer should be two different people. It does not follow that the industrial world should be divided into two classes of people: a few who decide what is to be done, design the job, set the pace, rhythm and motions, and order others about; and the many who do what and as they are told. (Page 284)
  • A manager sets objectives – A manager organizes – A manager motivates and communicates – A manager, by establishing yardsticks, measures – A manager develops people. (Page 344)

In summary, reading The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker can help you teach the “Digital Natives” in marketing how to convince the “Digital Immigrants” in management that they won’t fall off the edge of the world by sailing in a different direction.

(Greg Jarboe is the president and co-founder of SEO-PR, a member of the faculty at the Rutgers Business School and Market Motive, and the author of YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day. Questia is a client of his content marketing agency.)

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