Business Book Classic: Managing for Results

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When Shelley told me she had never heard of Peter Drucker, I was astounded. Then I realized that it was the way of the world. Shelley was born in the 90s and went to college in this century. It’s likely that no one in her education ever mentioned Peter Drucker.

That’s how things work. Ideas and the names of thinkers get plowed under as the world moves forward. Sometimes though, it’s worth going back and finding the old classics which still have powerful truths. That’s why I’m writing this review of Managing for Results by Peter Drucker.

Drucker is one of the greatest management thinkers of all time. Many people describe him as “the father of management.” In the 1960s, Drucker wrote two books I have returned many times since I read them for the first time. One of them is The Effective Executive. The other is Managing for Results.

They’re different books, but they make a great pair. The Effective Executive is about how to manage yourself. Managing for Results is about how to manage a business.

Here is the first paragraph from the introduction.

“This is a ‘what to do’ book. It deals with the economic tasks that any business has to discharge for economic performance and economic results. It attempts to organize these tasks so that executives can perform them systematically, purposefully, with understanding, and with reasonable probability of accomplishment. It tries to develop a point of view, concepts and approaches for finding what should be done and how to go about doing it.”

Managing for Results is divided into three parts. Part One is the longest. There are eight chapters devoted to “Understanding the Business.”

Part Two is “Focus On Opportunity.” The three chapters are “Building On Strengths,” “Finding Business Potential,” and “Making The Future Today.” These three chapters are the core of the book. I return to them often. They shaped the way I think about business and the future.

The third, shortest, part of the book is “A Program for Performance.” That’s where Drucker addresses how to bring the insights from the book into your world for purposeful action.

Drucker says the book is about economic tasks, and in the first chapter, he tells us what that means.

“There are three different dimensions to the economic task: (1) The present business must be made effective; (2) its potential must be identified and realized; (3) it must be made into a different business for a different future.”

In A Nutshell

Managing for Results: Economic Tasks and Risk-Taking Decisions by Peter F. Drucker will give you the knowledge and insight to do a better job. If you’re responsible for the performance of any part of a business, buy this book, read it, and apply what you learn. I offer one caution. This book was written in 1963. Some examples are dated, and the language is far from inclusive. If that really bothers you, you won’t be able to learn from the book and you should skip it.

Some Quotes from Managing for Results

To give you an idea what the content of the book is and what I found most insightful and powerful, I’ve collected some quotes. They’re in order as they appear in the book.

“Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.”

“Concentration is the key to economic results. Economic results require that managers concentrate their efforts on the smallest number of products, product lines, services, customers, markets, distributive channels, end-uses, and so on, that will produce the largest amount of revenue.”

“The purpose of a business is to create a customer.”

“Because the customer buys satisfaction, all goods and services compete intensively with goods and services that look quite different, seem to serve entirely different functions, are made, distributed, sold differently—but are alternative means for the customer to obtain the same satisfaction.”

“Finally one should always ask the question: What in the customer’s behavior appears to me totally irrational? And what therefore is it in his reality that I fail to see?”

“We know only two things about the future: It cannot be known. It will be different from what exists now and from what we now expect.”

You can check out some of my highlights and notes from most books on my GoodReads page. My highlights for this classic exist only in my original hardback copy.


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What People Are Saying

Sue Curtis   |   21 Dec 2018   |   Reply

Truly leadership is a lifelong learning project and a single opportunity if grabbed at the right time can change your life

Wally Bock   |   26 Dec 2018   |   Reply

Sue – thanks for adding to the conversation.

Omodigbo   |   16 Oct 2021   |   Reply

Summary of Managing for result book by Peter Drucker.
The main highlights of the book.