Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Peter F. Drucker, fully Peter Ferdinand Drucker

American Business Consultant, Professor of Philosophy and Politics, Social Ecologist and Author

"Disagreement alone can provide alternatives to a decision. And a decision without an alternative is a desperate gambler’s throw, no matter how carefully thought through it might be."

"As a rule we perceive what we expect to perceive… The unexpected is usually not received at all. It is not seen or heard, but ignored. Or it is misunderstood."

"Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes... but no plans."

"Efficiency is concerned with doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things."

"A basic rule of organization is to build the fewest possible management levels and forge the shortest possible chain of command."

"The danger of total propaganda will be believed. The danger is that nothing will be believed… The end results of total propaganda are not fanatics, but cynics."

"In every area of effectiveness within an organization, one feeds the opportunities and starves the problems."

"The test of organization is not genius. It is the capacity to make common people achieve uncommon performance."

"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."

"A manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge. "

"A person can perform only from strength. One cannot build performance on weakness, let alone on something one cannot do at all. "

"Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer."

"Business has two functions: marketing and innovation."

"Checking the results of a decision against its expectations shows executives what their strengths are, where they need to improve, and where they lack knowledge or information. "

"Almost everybody today believes that nothing in economic history has ever moved as fast as, or had a greater impact than, the Information Revolution. But the Industrial Revolution moved at least as fast in the same time span, and had probably an equal impact if not a greater one. "

"Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you've got."

"Do not believe that it is very much of an advance to do the unnecessary three times as fast. "

"Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action. "

"Ideas are cheap and abundant; what is of value is the effective placement of those ideas into situations that develop into action. "

"Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked leadership is defined by results not attributes. "

"Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right."

"Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing. "

"Entrepreneurship rests on a theory of economy and society. The theory sees change as normal and indeed as healthy. And it sees the major task in society - and especially in the economy - as doing something different rather than doing better what is already being done. That is basically what Say, two hundred years ago, meant when he coined the term entrepreneur. It was intended as a manifesto and as a declaration of dissent: the entrepreneur upsets and disorganizes. As Joseph Schumpeter formulated it, his task is creative destruction. "

"Erroneous assumptions can be disastrous. "

"Efficiency is doing better what is already being done. "

"Everybody has accepted by now that change is unavoidable. But that still implies that change is like death and taxes it should be postponed as long as possible and no change would be vastly preferable. But in a period of upheaval, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm. "

"Executives owe it to the organization and to their fellow workers not to tolerate nonperforming individuals in important jobs."

"In business school classrooms they construct wonderful models of a non-world. "

"In all recorded history there has not been one economist who has had to worry about where the next meal would come from. "

"Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not making friends and influencing people — that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to high sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations."

"It is more productive to convert an opportunity into results than to solve a problem - which only restores the equilibrium of yesterday. "

"Making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level. "

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. "

"If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old. "

"Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service. It is capable of being presented as a discipline, capable of being learned, capable of being practiced. Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation, the changes and their symptoms that indicate opportunities for successful innovation. And they need to know and to apply the principles of successful innovation."

"Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes. "

"Management by objective works - if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time you don't. "

"Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better."

"Most discussions of decision making assume that only senior executives make decisions or that only senior executives' decisions matter. This is a dangerous mistake. "

"Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done."

"My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions."

"Never mind your happiness; do your duty."

"People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete - the things that should have worked but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are. "

"No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings. "

"Objectives are not fate; they are direction. They are not commands; they are commitments. They do not determine the future; they are means to mobilize the resources and energies of the business for the making of the future."

"No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it. "

"Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality. "

"Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work."

"One cannot buy, rent or hire more time. The supply of time is totally inelastic. No matter how high the demand, the supply will not go up. There is no price for it. Time is totally perishable and cannot be stored. Yesterday's time is gone forever, and will never come back. Time is always in short supply. There is no substitute for time. Everything requires time. All work takes place in, and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable and necessary resource."

"Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility. "