The Drucker I knew

Updated: Nov 16 2005, 05:30am hrs
I was introduced to Prof Peter Druckers books within a few days of entering IIM, Calcutta in 1979 and I should admit that I kept the relationship going for many many years after my MBA days. Interestingly, though IIM-C is better known for its quantitative orientation, the first Dean of Graduate Studies was Prof Douglas McGregor, the person who developed the Theory X and Theory Y approach to managing people. I am told that he and Prof Drucker had a lot of things in common. And at IIM-C Drucker was recommended reading, possibly a legacy from Prof McGregors days.

So within a few months of entering the Joka campus, some of us had managed to read his seminal books including Practice of Management. I still remember seeing 16-mm films with Prof Drucker explaining management principles in easy to comprehend ways. His accent took a little getting used to, though.

The book Practice of Management left such a deep impression on me that years later I gifted it to dear friend Arun Kale, possibly the greatest art director this country has seen. And that possibly was a test to Prof Druckers writing; I knew it was lucid and simple that even a person who had not had a day of management education could understand and appreciate. For many years after that I have seen the book proudly displayed on his bookshelf along with advertising black books, One Show annuals etc. From its frayed edges I could figure out that Arun had visited the guru several times.

That is a nutshell was the power of Prof Druckers works. They cut across all barriers that organisations put down. The lessons therein are as relevant to an MD of a large corporation as to a director running a 20-person creative department!

We were in the early stages of organising the AdAsia 2003 Jaipur, and I think it was July 2001. Pradeep Guha (now CEO, ZEE)had the vision of bringing to India the worlds best thinkers, from management, marketing, branding, advertising and film making. Prof Druckers name was the first that we could think of. We came to hear that he was ailing and was not in a positon to travel. (Charles Handy generously accepted our invitation and those of us who were there on the last day of AdAsia2003 will still remember his presentation vividly.)

Recently I was reading the book he had written a few years ago on global trends and as usual Prof Drucker did not hold any punches. I almost choc-ked on my drink when I read that Prof Drucker, in his own characteristic way, predicted a break up of China into several autonomous states. And he did have a few good words for India, this was in a book written when India was not yet a dot on the global business map. I am not sure that what Prof Drucker predicted will ever come true, but the fact that he could predict something that far out did say something about the man. A thinker, a management guru and above all person who could see tomorrow.

The author is executive director, FCB -Ulka Advertising