The dictionary defines “legacy” as something bequeathed, left or established for future generations. What did Peter Drucker bequeath, leave or establish for future generations, and for the Drucker School in particular?
I think Peter left four related, but very different, gifts for us to enjoy, reflect on and further develop:
Methodology: For drawing on yesterday to understand today and anticipate tomorrow.
Philosophy: A set of core beliefs about the importance of the individual as an end and not as a means to an end (in the tradition of the philosopher Emmanuel Kant); and about the importance of healthy institutions to a functioning society.
These core beliefs are tied directly to Peter’s belief in the importance of management, which can either build or destroy both individuals and institutions.
Content: Ways of thinking and asking questions about any number of important topics - typically before their importance is common knowledge - and providing a point of view and advice concerning answers to these questions. Examples include self-control, knowledge work, pension-fund revolution, on and on.
Impact: On executives and managers in all sectors of society (for-profit, non-profit, government and volunteer). Many academics, though certainly not all, viewed him more as a philosopher than as a scholar. Their view betrays the bias of most management faculty, especially in the U.S.A., who view management as a science rather than as a practice, as Drucker did.
I believe Peter’s impact is like family heirlooms that he bequeathed to us. The content he left with us is vast, and he would expect us to revisit, rethink and rework these ideas in light of changed circumstances and new challenges.
His philosophy is the bedrock of his work, like the Bill of Rights that the founding fathers of the U.S. Constitution left for us to enjoy and preserve. These will not change. Peter’s methodology is a mix of discipline, science, art and intuition. Can it be developed in a form more accessible to a wider audience?