Peter Drucker: The Father of Modern Management Consulting

drucker-on-consultingPeter Drucker on Consulting is the book I have wanted to read for the last six years. Drucker has long been regarded as the “Father of Modern Management”. But after reading Dr. William Cohen’s new book, it is clear that Drucker is also the “Father of Modern Management Consulting” as well. Back in 2010, I had just been accepted to master’s program in leadership and had read Drucker’s classic book (aren’t all his books classics?), Managing the Nonprofit Organization (1990). My professor chose the text because in addition to teaching and writing, he like Drucker had the trifecta career of also being an organizational consultant. I quickly learned that this threefold path of writing, teaching, and consulting was a track that I too was called to and shortly thereafter read the third edition of Dr. William Cohen’s book, How to Make It Big as A Consultant (2001).

Fast forward to now and I am currently the Director of Coaching on Purpose, a leadership development consultancy for financial institutions. As an experienced management consultant and leadership coach, I have worked with dozens of nonprofit and for-profit companies, over the last six years, including numerous 501(c) 3 ministries, private schools and universities, and everything from homeless shelters, food banks, faith-based and religious institutions, to publically traded companies, dozens of community banks across the country, insurance companies, independent marketing firms, and large financial broker-dealers. In every one of my coaching or consulting engagements, my goal has remained the same: to add value to leaders and organizations by helping them clarify their mission, articulate their values, and take massive action towards achieving their vision. I believe this is my own way of helping clients answer Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask about Your Organization (2008):

  1. What is our mission?
  2. Who is our customer?
  3. What does the customer value?
  4. What are our results?
  5. What is our plan?

Additionally, I am a certified leadership coach with C3 International, my professor’s boutique consulting firm. In 2013, I was named one of the Top Ten winners of the Global Peter Drucker Challenge, an international entrepreneurial and management essay competition sponsored in part by the Harvard Business Review and hosted in Vienna, Austria, in which my essay was titled “Leadership Lessons from the Stories of Steinbeck, Shakespeare, and Shaw: What Fiction can Teach Executives about Effectiveness”. Other Global Peter Drucker Challenge submissions include my titles “Consulting Churches in a Changing Culture” (2012), “Productivity, Performance, and Perfection: Why Managing Oneself in the Digital Age, Really Means Continuous Improvement for the Knowledge Worker” (2015), and “The Piety of Entrepreneurship: Sainthood in the Startup Society or How Bill Gates has done More Good for the World than Mother Teresa” (2016). I am also author of the “Coaching on Purpose White Paper for Strategic Planning, Based on the Father of Modern Management”, and the financial position paper, “The Need for Corporate Culture Coaching”, in which I synthesis research from the Stanford and Harvard Business Schools, the Korn Ferry Institute, Deloitte, Gallup’s poll on American workplace engagement, the Boston Consulting Group, and McKinsey & Co., and make the applications specific to financial services, recruiting and human resource initiatives.

The main impetus for my growth as a coach and consultant, in addition to raw field experience, has come through standing on the shoulders of giants by reading their works. This would include digesting all 39 of Peter Drucker’s books, several more about his life, dozens of his articles, and the five core titles in Dr. William Cohen’s Peter Drucker series: A Class with Drucker (2008), Drucker on Leadership (2009), Drucker on Marketing (2012), The Practical Drucker (2013), and now, Peter Drucker on Consulting (2016).

Peter Drucker on Consulting combines Drucker’s massive legacy, with Dr. Cohen’s own experiences in consulting, the history of the California Institute of Management of which Dr. Cohen co-founded and currently serves as President, and rare insights regarding the relationship Drucker had with McKinsey’s famed director Marvin Bower when they were both hired by the U.S. military as consultants. Dr. Cohen also makes some breakthrough comparisons of Drucker’s consulting work, in which he considered himself as a “social ecologist” with the scientific inventions of genius Albert Einstein wearing a white lab coat conducting experiments, and the fictional detective inquiries of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s, Sherlock Holmes, both as examples of Drucker’s ability to think ignorantly and ask a few questions.

Cohen also compares how Drucker’s business model, based on principles and ethics, differs than the genesis story of the “Big 3” of McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Company. Other interesting stories feature tales of Drucker’s conversation with GE CEO, Jack Welch on core competencies, Cohen’s connection to Israel, and how General Colin Powell broke the ‘Peter Principle’ (not a reference to Peter Drucker).

Perhaps one of my favorite sections of this great book, is ‘What Makes an Outstanding Consultant?’ an adaption from Cohen’s recently updated classic, How to Make It Big as a Consultant, 4th Edition (2009).  Here Cohen outlines seven essential skills to management consulting:

  1. The ability to interact with all participants in a consulting engagement.
  2. The ability to diagnose problems correctly.
  3. The ability to find solutions that work.
  4. Technical expertise and knowledge.
  5. Good communication skills.
  6. Strong marketing and selling abilities.
  7. Managerial skills.

Dr. William Cohen’s Peter Drucker on Consulting: How to Apply Drucker’s Principles for Business Success is a masterpiece. Unlike any other book written about Drucker, Cohen’s latest submission uncovers little-known facts and subtle insights to this part of Drucker’s long legacy that no other Drucker scholar could offer. Cohen’s unique experiences as being Drucker’s first Ph.D. student, to his successful career in military, education, business, and consulting, and his development of the California Institute of Advanced Management, a graduate level consulting lab based on applying Drucker’s principles, makes Dr. Cohen’s latest work a must read for any aspiring consultant, leadership coach, or CEO. I highly recommend it!

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About Joshua Lee Henry

Joshua Lee Henry is an executive leadership coach and organizational health consultant, with a background in pastoral ministry, business-2-business sales, and nonprofit management. He serves both pastors and CEO's, helping them to multiply the positive impact of their churches and companies within their communities, to "Advance the Kingdom to Transform Society".
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