Can You "Model" Drucker?
Drucker was a management genius. Some say that what one person can do or become, another can also. Does this apply to a management genius like Drucker? Some say yes . . . through modeling his success.
There is a theory which operationalizes this oft-quoted saying that what one person can do or become, another can also. This theory is known as "modeling." According to modeling, you simply uncover the actions by the individual whose success you want to duplicate, and you follow the same path and take the same actions. According to this theory, if you follow the same path and do the same things, you will get the same results.
Thist sounds simple and logical, but there are problems. For example, there are differences between Drucker and you and me, and for that matter among all of us who may be seeking to duplicate Drucker through modeling. There is no doubt every individual, is by definition an individual with his or her own physical, physiological, and psychological characteristics, personality and an infinite number of traits coming from birth or circumstances that make us different. Consequently the basic modeling material we are dealing between one individual and another is vastly different. Moreover all of us are shaped by different experiences in life. Consider for a moment Drucker’s upbringing and how it affected his actions later in life.
When Drucker was a boy, his father insisted that he participate in discussions with adult visitors in their home. This means that, even as a young man, he had the experience of interacting with many in the Drucker circle of family friends. This was especially valuable, because according to Drucker, it even included such luminaries as Sigmund Freud. Imagine getting to discuss today’s news and making your views known to someone to whom his father introduced as "the most important man in Europe" and who elevated psychology to unheard of levels.
Drucker’s first Management Consulting Experience
Drucker didn’t plan on becoming a management consultant. We know this because he told his students that his first experience in consulting started not long after arriving in the U.S. when he was still only 32. Previously, Drucker had been a newspaper correspondent and journalist as well as an economic analyst at a bank and an insurance company in England after he had immediately left Germany when Hitler came to power. However, having a doctorate (though not in management, but in International and Public Law), Drucker’s was mobilized in a civilian capacity when the U.S. entered World War II in 1941.
You really don’t have to interact with someone of the stature of a Freund to develop your ability to interact with others. However, you can’t sit back and just listen. You need to actually participate in the conversation by introducing your own ideas. Drucker knew that someone who did know what was expected of a management consultant had made this assignment. Having lived in England and read about Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes, Drucker knew what a "consulting detective" did. With that knowledge and the assumption that the colonel did not know anything about management consulting, Drucker asked direct questions about the colonel’s responsibilities and problems. In some ways this was the foundation of Drucker’s unique modus operandi in consulting: he asked questions. These questions led to additional questions, and eventually the colonel himself concluded where the "impertinent" fit in and what he wanted him to do. Drucker then laid out some options about how this work should be accomplished, and got the colonel’s agreement to proceed. The colonel was not only well-satisfied, he was clearly relieved. He accepted Drucker’s proposals in their entirety. This proved to be Drucker’s first successful consulting engagement. So, Peter Drucker was not only the father of modern management; he may have also been the father of modern management consulting as well.
Drucker may have had better than average encouragement at home, but he started early in his career to do something additional: he began an enormous amount of reading. Even while studying for a law degree, he read extensively both fiction and nonfiction . . . everything from science fiction to romance novels. Drucker missed nothing. His wife Doris told interviewers that even after he became established in his career he continued to read extensively. You might have thought that these books were exclusively about business and management. This would have been wrong. Although he scanned many business books, what he read mostly according to Doris Drucker was history. And you can see in reading Drucker’s writings even today how he applied the lessons of history in any situation not only in management, but to everything he wrote.