My research recently brought me in contact with The Drucker Institute, a social enterprise named after the legendary business guru Peter Drucker (who died in 2005). The Institute applies some of Drucker’s principles and ideals to a variety of initiatives and good causes. I was put in touch with the group because someone pointed out to me that Peter Drucker was, among other things, a master questioner.
The Institute’s executive director, Rick Wartzman, confirmed this and shared with me an article he’d written about Drucker for Forbes last fall, titled “How to Consult Like Peter Drucker.” It’s worth a read in its entirety, but I want to focus in on one part.
After pointing out that Drucker was widely seen as “the man who invented management” and the father of business consulting—the go-to advisor during a span of half a century for everyone from GM to Procter & Gamble to Coca-Cola—Wartzman’s article then poses the question: “Why was Drucker so in demand? What made him so good?”
The answer: questions. “For starters,” Wartzman writes, “he understood that his job wasn’t to serve up answers. ‘My greatest strength,’ Drucker once remarked, ‘is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.’”
Often those questions were deceptively simple, Wartzman points out. As in, Who is your customer? What business are you in?
The clients who hired him may have started out expecting the great Drucker to offer brilliants solutions to all their problems. But as he told one client, “The answers have to be yours.”
As I discussed this with Wartzman the other day, I observed that it seems most consultants don’t follow Drucker’s model. They figure they’re being hired as “the experts” and therefore it’s their job to provide answers. But as Drucker understood, an outsider looking at your business will probably never understand it as well as you do. Hence, that outsider really shouldn’t be telling you what to do. He/she should be helping you see things from a different angle, challenge your own assumptions, re-frame old problems, and ask better questions—so that, in the end, you can figure out the solutions yourself.
“I loved this series of articles, thank you! I'm going to use a lot of these questions with the groups ...”
“This is a great recognition and a strong idea. A well-crafted, simple question can be both specific and open. In ...”
“Drucker also authored the 1999 Harvard Business Review article “Managing Oneself” (republished in 2005 as an HBR Classic) http://hbr.org/2005/01/managing-oneself/ar/1 (subscription required ...”
“great post which addreesses the problem in our schools. the kids as they progress are no longer graded or tested ...”
“The world as we know is changing so rapidly we cannot assume we know all's that to know about it...so ...”
“Great article on a related topic in the NYTimes today. “The Boys at the Back” by Christina Hoff Sommers (a ...”
“I see the world is divided into two camps: The first camp encourages questioning and subscribes to the belief that there’s ...”
“Why don't they use it to better themselves? They're just trying to pull each other down. ”
“As part of his PR campaign for his new book, I noticed this week that Nikhil wrote a provocative letter ...”
“Career 'lego' rather than career ladder (Dan Pink). http://www.winningbysharing.net/bp.asp ”