The power of Drucker

On the 21st of April, Drucker University and IESE associated AESE organized a conference on the application of Drucker’s principles to today’s world.

How is it possible? Although he worked until his death, Peter Drucker left us in 2005.

And in 17 years the world has changed a lot. Not only subtly, imperceptibly, on a day-to-day basis, but since then three major crises have occurred: 1) subprime, 2) covid and finally 3) the war in Ukraine with the known consequences on the price of energy and food, risk of shortages in others, interest rates, a drop in trade and the consequent impact on economies in general.

In a world where only change is constant (Heraclitus, Buda, Marcus Aurelius, Camões), it is understandable that philosophy, poetry, the various arts remain, stay. But management?

Walmart, Lowe’s, Petco, Target are offering the curbside pickup service: after the digital order, the employee brings everything to the parking lot where the customer parks. Advantage? For the customer, time saving.

Sweetgreen, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken allow customers to collect their order (made in a mobile phone) from a locker. With the advantage of zero interaction, which many customers prefer for fear of Covid, momentary or temperamental mood.

These two innovations (while companies keep the traditional in-store service option) answer a crucial Drucker question: what other needs can I serve my customer?

Decrease wasted time? Then pick-up service. Avoid interaction? So lockers.

The first page of marketing books stresses offering value to the customer. Drucker, however, also called attention to the question: what is non-value?

The Heavins, Diane and Gary, made a fortune answering this question in the case of gyms.

Many ladies are not interested in sophisticated machines, ignore saunas, Turkish baths and swimming pools (for fear of illness and privacy reasons) and detest the intrusive presence of men.

So? A chain of small gyms scattered around the neighborhoods for quick access, where no man enters, with simple machines and now organized in a circle to allow the ladies a little socializing…

The name? Curves. The result?: a multinational present in 56 countries.

Drucker developed just to manage the client a total of ten questions. In addition to many others in various areas of management.

Since the customer is the boss (without him there are no jobs) and while the answers change over time, the circumstances, the questions, those remain (as long as they are big questions) and hence the secret of Drucker’s actuality.

Of its importance. Because as Voltaire said, one should judge a man not by his answers (temporary), but by his questions (which remain).

Jorge Sá

MBA Drucker School

PhD Columbia University

Tenured Professor

Article published in VE in 29th April 2022