The Management Prophet

“Capitalism is being attacked not because it is inefficient or misgoverned but because it is cynical. And indeed a society based on the assertion that private vices become public benefits cannot endure, no matter how impeccable its logic” .

It’s amazing this was written almost 60 years ago (1954), but it was.

“We no longer even understand the question whether change is by itself good or bad… We start out with the axiom that it is the norm. We do not see change as altering the order… We see change as being order itself – indeed, the only order we can comprehend today”.

This is how someone would describe the digital age, or today’s financial crisis. But it was written in 1959.

“Large organizations cannot be versatile. A large organization is effective through its mass rather than through its agility. Fleas can jump many times their own height, but not an elephant”.

Mark Zuckerberg could have used this to describe Facebook’s small development teams. But it was written in 1969, way before he was born.

“An employer has no business with a man’s personality. Employment is a specific contract calling for a specific performance… An employee owes no “loyalty”, he owes no “love” and no “attitudes” – he owes performance and nothing else… The task is not to change personality, but to enable a person to achieve and to perform”.

This very much describes millenials, doesn’t it? It was written almost 40 years ago (1974).

“A manager’s task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weakness irrelevant – and that applies fully as much to the manager’s boss as it applies to the manager’s subordinates”.

This is from 1992, more than a decade before John Kotter explained how to manage your boss.

“An organization is “sick” when promotion becomes more important to its people than accomplishment of their job – when it is more concerned with avoiding mistakes than with taking risks… The moment people talk of “implementing” instead of “doing”, and of “finalizing” instead of “finishing”, the organization is already running a fever”.

Adizes would probably embrace this notion. It was written in 1959, three decades before his Corporate Lifecycles was first published.

“There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer”.

Although this was written in 1954, I’m sure Instagram would agree.

The last quote may have revealed the identity of our prophet. That man, of course, is Peter Drucker.


The first and last quotes are from The Practice of Management.

The second and sixth are from Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New Post-Modern World.

The third one is from The Age of Discontinuity.

The fourth is from Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices.

The fifth quote is from Managing for the Future: The 199s and Beyond.

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