Before going further, let me note that this book is mislabeled. The excerpts in this book are from only ten of Professor Drucker's more than 30 management books. Although there is some reference to nonprofit management (where he spent half of his time), this volume does not encapsulate all of his ideas in that sphere. Many of his early ideas about society are also missing.
As great as his ideas about management are, his observations about how to think are even more valuable. The book contains no material from his autobiography, Adventures of a Bystander. You cannot hope to fully appreciate this material until you read that book.
What the book does contain is a fairly easy to follow series of 26 excerpts from the ten books, organized into three sections: Management, Individual, and Society. These books date back to 1954, so you get an overview of part of his work over the last 47 years. This overview will mainly be valuable to managers who have read very little Drucker, since there is essentially no new material in the book. The excerpts are also not connected by any transitions, so there is no additional perspective available from the book's organization.
Here are the sources of the chapters:
The New Realities, Chapters 1 and 26;
Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, Chapters 2, 3, 5, and 18;
Managing for the Future, Chapters 4 and 19;
Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Chapters 6, 15, 21;
Managing in a Time of Great Change, Chapters 7 and 23;
Practice of Management, Chapter 8;
Frontiers of Management, Chapter 9;
Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Chapters 10-12, 20, and 24;
The Effective Executive, Chapters 13, 14, 16, and 17; and
Post-Capitalist Society, Chapters 22 and 25.
If you are not familiar with Professor Drucker, he is generally considered to be the first person to think systematically about what management is and needs to become. He was also the first to identify that we were moving into a knowledge-based society where the focus of work and the ways that work is organized would have to be totally transformed. His definition of what a business must do is the most often quoted one around: "The purpose of a business is to create a customer." Innovation and marketing are the prime tasks. The book is especially deep in references to his seminal thinking on how to innovate and to operate entrepreneurial businesses. He was also the first twentieth century thinker to see the connection between management of for profit and nonprofit organizations, and that both types of organizations are needed in growing numbers for a sound society. This book is also deeply presents his thinking about the social responsibility of business.
I am still impressed by how substantial his imprint is on all management books that I read. Whether or not Professor Drucker is cited, credited, or admired in these books, almost all of them are simply restatements or elaborations on his fundamental concepts. I hope this edition of his work will help extend his influence further into the future with new generations of executives and managers.
After you finish reading these landmark ideas, I suggest that you think about one element of the book from the individual section. What values do you want to bring to your work? Are you succeeding? If yes, congratulations! How can you accomplish more? If not, what can you change to make those values come to life?
Use your work as a canvas upon which to paint a better world, as Professor Drucker has!