The Practice of Management
Harper & Brothers, 1954
Sixty might once have been seen as a nice age to retire. But 60 years on from its publication, Peter Drucker's The Practice of Management has, remarkably, a lot of life left in it yet. No single book could ever sum up all the tasks facing managers for all time. Yet this book probably comes closer than any other.
With this text, Drucker effectively cemented the concept of modern management, and made writing on management a respectable discipline.
Having first established his name with The Concept of the Corporation in 1946, Drucker then defined and codified what management (and business) is for.
So many of the key Drucker insights are here. Businesses exist to 'create a customer', he wrote. So managers need to ask quite simply who their customers are and what they are really trying to do for them.
This book also helped to popularise the concept of 'management by objectives', a phrase which has headed a thousand (and more) flip-charts.
Drucker's great virtues - lucidity, practicality and common sense - are all on display in this book. Calmer than the average business blockbuster, Drucker's work offers us a timeless voice of moderate and reasonable wisdom.
- Stefan Stern is visiting professor at Cass Business School. Follow him on Twitter: @StefanStern.