The cover story in the current issue of BusinesWeek is about Peter Drucker and is written by John A. Byrne. Until recently, Byrne was the editor-in-chief of FastCompany Magazine, where I thought he did a great job. When the magazine changed hands earlier this year, he went back to BusinessWeek, which is where he had been for many years previously. This article is an excellent example of his writing skills and his subject is both interesting and one he seems to know well.
Peter Drucker died earlier this month at the age of 95. Credited with being "The Man Who Invented Mangement," I was very surprised to read in this article that his books on management practice were not considered material for MBA programs; that some academics considered his work "superficial" and not rigorous enough or backed up by quantifiable research. Yet many of the people quoted in this article - business icons, writers, politicians, religious leaders - talked about his enormous contribution to business, management and organizational development. It made me ponder what the gap might be between the academic perspective on business and what really takes place in companies all over the world on a daily basis. I have said for years, only half in jest, that the Harvard Business School should do a case study on our company. There is no question in my mind that that the experience would leave many venerated business academics scratching their heads in both wonder and frustration that we could be so successful in spite of ourselves.
I think the proliferation of books on all things related to business is an acknowledgement that the study of what makes a business successful is a life-long on-going process that never stops. The Internet has been a great equalizer in the dissemination of information and knowledge in the last decade. More than ever before, access to educational opportunities is tied less and less to location, affluence or even language. But if the playing field is more level, then the motivation of the individual players becomes more critical as the field becomes more crowded. More than ever, schools should stress the importance of acquiring skills to be a life-long learner and promote the concept that education doesn't stop when you step outside the classroom, school or university. I'm not sure how many people really understand that.