Enduring Wisdom from a Management Consulting Legend

peter-druckerThis past weekend on a long drive across New England, the radio announcer shared the famous birthdays from the day’s date in history—November 19th.  Among the list were many names that I recognized from all walks of life:

World Leaders – US President James A. Garfield and Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi

Athletes – hockey player Patrick Kane and Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug

Entertainers – talk show host Larry King and actor/director Jodie Foster

Entrepreneurs – fashion designer Calvin Klein and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey

Surprisingly, he also mentioned many names I didn’t recognize (YouTube Star is a profession?), or at least don’t want to admit publicly that I recognized. 

One name that stood out to me, however, was Peter Drucker—born on November 19, 1909, in Vienna, Austria—commonly referred to as the “Father of Modern Management.”  Although not technically the first management consultant, in many ways he is the father of modern management consulting, and is most certainly one of the most influential (and oft-quoted) figures in consulting history.  Although he passed away 11 years ago, much of Drucker’s practical wisdom remains relevant. 

This got me thinking about some of my favorite Drucker quotes, and how they continue to apply to my work today.  

“My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.”

Citisoft is hired for our extensive investment management operations and technology expertise, but we understand that every client is unique, and therefore are never prescriptive with our recommendations.  We ask questions and listen intently in order to understand fully our clients’ needs.  There is nothing a client needs less than a solution to a problem they don’t have.

“To do the most good requires saying no to pressures to stray, and the discipline to stop doing what does not fit.”

The road to successful project execution begins with clearly defined goals and scope, and requires the willpower to adhere to those goals despite external distractions and the inevitable push of scope creep.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.”

This is one of the primary reasons we work on the ground, at the client site.  With advancements in telephony and collaboration software, it is easy to meet virtually, but we see tremendous value in meeting face-to-face, brainstorming in real-time, and being able to read the room.  I’ve found that many valuable insights are gleaned from the impromptu hallway conversation.

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” 

A plan is only as good as the effort put into delivering it.  Citisoft prides itself on partnering with our client in well-formed teams to deliver successful project results.  No role or task too small, as long as it contributes to the ultimate project success.    

“The less an organization has to do to produce results, the better it does its job.” 

On our project teams, we strive to deliver simple yet effective solutions.  There are no bonus points for added complexity or perceived elegance in a solution.  Ultimately, we deliver solutions that satisfy requirements, and are easily transferable from the project team to the client’s day-to-day staff.

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

“We’ve always done it that way” is never an acceptable answer in our line of work.  In addition to providing subject matter expertise, project management, and analysis to our clients, we facilitate the change management effort that is required to deliver a client from their current state to their envisioned future state.  New solutions only deliver their intended benefit when they are openly adopted.

“There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.”

Don’t pave the cowpath!  We work with our clients to define their current and foreseeable needs, in order to develop new processes and maximize the gains achieved with the implementation of a new system or service.

Over seventy years after Drucker’s first published works, his teachings still ring true.  His pragmatic approach to consulting provides some strong axioms to remember as I conduct my client engagements, and thankfully also helped to pass the time on my weekend drive.  

* Also… if any of you happen to run into Tyga at a Kardashian party, please wish him a belated happy 26th birthday from me!