Business Wisdom from Peter Drucker – 21 Top Quotes

The purpose of business is to create a customer
Peter Drucker

I first encountered Peter Drucker’s work in college while doing a course in business.

The thing I remember most – the one thing that stood out for me – was that when the American establishment rejected his ideas, Japan embraced them.

As a result, Japan implemented the practice of empowering each and every employee.

What that meant was, for example, in a factory if at any stage of the process a worker found a defect- no matter where – he was at liberty to stop the whole process. This ensured there were no weak links at any stage of the process.

And, in a nutshell, this was the practice that gave Japanese industry a reputation for quality, in all fields.

In this article, I’ve gathered a few of Peter Drucker’s quotes. I hope you will see the wisdom they impart, and benefit from them in your business.

Not in any order:

  1. Cultivate a deep understanding of yourself – not only what your strengths and weaknesses are but also how you learn, how you work with others, what your values are, and where you can make the greatest contribution. Because only when you operate from strengths can you achieve true excellence.
  2. The purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions:marketing and innovation.
  3. The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.
  4. Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.
  5. Today knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.
  6. When a subject becomes totally obsolete we make it a required course.
  7. Management by objectives works if you first think through your objectives. Ninety percent of the time you haven’t.
  8. The best way to predict the future is to create it.
  9. So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.
  10. Knowledge has to be improved, challenged and increased constantly, or it vanishes.
  11. Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… but no plans.
  12. We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.
  13. Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.
  14. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.
  15. Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.
  16. Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.
  17. People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.
  18. Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.
  19. Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.
  20. Do what you do best and outsource the rest.
  21. I have been saying for many years that we are using the word ‘guru’ only because ‘charlatan’ is too long to fit into a headline.

Love that last one.

Not that I have anything against ‘gurus’. My problem is there are too many fakes ones.




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