I think you will find that researchers generally shy away from
questions which contain words such as "best" or "most" because how can
one possibly know when their list contains the best or the most of
something. With that in mind, I have attempted to find what Peter
Drucker's peers considered quotes worthy of mentioning and came up
with the following list, including Brainy Quotes to round it off.
Peter Drucker Quotes:
"In a small salute to his life, following are twenty reasons to love
Peter Drucker -- a few of my favorite quotes from The Daily Drucker.
As I compiled them, I was reminded of the legendary rock critic Lester
Bangs, who once said "There are no bad Who songs; there are only less
good ones." And so it is with Peter Drucker. These are my favorites
today. But I'm sure I'll wish I had included many others tomorrow."
1. "The critical question is not 'How can I achieve?' but 'What can I
2. "There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create
a customer. He alone gives employment."
3. "It is easier to raise the performance of one leader than it is to
raise the performance of a whole mass."
4. "Leadership is not rank. It is responsibility."
5. "An executive should be a realist; and no one is less realistic
than the cynic."
6. "You cannot prevent a major catastrophe, but you can build an
organization that is battle-ready, where people trust one another. In
military training, the first rule is to instill soldiers with trust in
their officers -- because without trust, they won't fight."
7. "Listening (the first competence of leadership) is not a skill, it
is a discipline. All you have to do is keep your mouth shut."
8. "It is easy to look good in a boom."
9. "Luck never built a business. Prosperity and growth come only to
the business that systematically finds and exploits its potential."
10. "The one person to distrust is the one who never makes a mistake.
Either he is a phony, or he stays with the safe, the tried, and the
11. "There are keys to success in managing bosses. First, put down on
a piece of paper a 'boss list,' everyone to whom you are accountable.
Next, go to each person on the list and ask, 'What do I do and what do
my people do that helps you do your job?' And, 'What do we do that
makes your life more difficult?'"
12. "Workmanship is essential: In fact, an organization demoralizes
itself if it does not demand of its members the highest workmanship."
13. "A decision is a commitment to action. No decision has, in fact,
been made until carrying it out has become somebody's responsibility."
14. "It's much easier to sell the Brooklyn Bridge than to give it
away. Nobody trusts you if you offer something for free."
15. "The ultimate test of an information system is that there are no surprises."
16. "Until a business returns a profit that is greater than its cost
of capital, it does not create wealth -- it destroys it."
17. "The question has to be asked -- and asked seriously -- 'If we did
not do this already, would we go into it now?' If the answer is no,
the reaction must be 'What do we do now?' Very often, the right
answer is abandonment."
18. "Freedom is not fun. It is a responsible choice."
19. "One can't manage change. One can only be ahead of it."
20. "Just go out and make yourself useful."
Trafcom News: Best quotes from Peter Drucker
21. "Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a
22. "Most discussions of decision-making assume that only senior
executives make decisions or that only senior executives' decisions
matter. This is a dangerous mistake."
23. "The three greatest leaders of the 20th century were Hitler,
Stalin, and Mao. If that?s leadership, I want no part of it."
Steve Sjogren: Best Quotes Around
24. "The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say
?I.? They don?t think ?I.? They think ?we.? They think ?team.? They
understand their job to be making the team function. They accept the
responsibility and don?t sidestep, but ?we? gets the credit. There is
an identification (very often, quite unconscious) with the task and
with the group. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get
the task done."
25. "Leaders shouldn?t attach moral significance to their ideas: Do
that, and you can?t compromise."
26. "For new technology to replace old, it has to have at least ten
times the benefit."
The Info Manager: Best Quotes of 2003
27. "The best way to predict the future is to create it."
Canadian Entrepreneur: In tribute to Drucker, here are some of his best quote
28. ?No decision has been made unless carrying it out in specific
steps has become someone?s work assignment and responsibility.?
29. "Executives owe it to the organization and to their fellow workers
not to tolerate non-performing individuals in important jobs.?
30. ?Almost everybody today believes that nothing in economic history
has ever moved as fast as, or had a greater impact than, the
Information Revolution. But the Industrial Revolution moved at least
as fast in the same time span, and had probably an equal impact if not
a greater one.?
The King's Highway
31. ?Efficiency is doing things right, but effectiveness is doing the
32. "Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility."
33. "Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate
into hard work."
34. "The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said."
35. ?People who don?t take risks generally make about two big mistakes
a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big
mistakes a year.?
36. "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which
should not be done at all."
The World's Best Quotes in 1-10 Words.
37. "Do first things first, and second things not at all."
38. "In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be
written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most
important event historians will see is not technology, not the
Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human
condition. For the first time - literally - substantial and rapidly
growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will
have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it."
39. "We know nothing about motivation. All we can do is write books about it."
40. "You can either take action, or you can hang back and hope for a
miracle. Miracles are great, but they are so unpredictable."
41. "Production is not the application of tools to materials, but logic to work."
42. "You have to learn to treat people as a resource......you have to
ask not what do they cost, but what is the yield, what can they
43. "Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult
for people to get their work done."
The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, The Leader
of the Future, (c) 1996
44. Leaders grow; they are not made."
45. "Do not apply your strengths to a position that will destroy your values."
Strategic Management Wharton University Pennsylvania
46. "A poor organization structure makes good performance impossible,
no matter how good the individual managers may be."
47. "I would hope that American managers -- indeed managers worldwide
-- continue to appreciate what I have been saying since day one:
Management is so much more than exercising rank and privilege, it's so
much more than 'making deals.' Management affects people and their
lives, both in business and many other aspects as well. The practice
of management deserves our utmost attention; it deserves to be
The Globalist: Drucker?s Top 10: Wisdom for the Ages
48. "Government - not business - is going to be the most important
area of entrepreneurship and innovation over the next 25 years.?
49. ?When we talk about the global economy, I hope nobody believes it
can be managed. It can't.?
50. ?One either meets - or one works.?
51. ?I couldn't work in a large organization. They bore me to tears.?
52. ?Make your reports come to see you. Use technology, it's cheaper
than traveling. I don't know anybody who can work while traveling. Do
53. ?Warren Buffet once said that if he wants to find out how a
company is doing, he doesn't listen to security analysts. They talk
profit, which is irrelevant. He listens to bank credit analysts. They
talk cash flow.?
54. ?Stock options plans reward the executive for doing the wrong
thing. Instead of asking, 'Are we making the right decision?' he asks,
'How did we close today?' It is encouragement to loot the
55. ?In the United States, we have a very healthy economy - but a very
56. ?If this century proves one thing, it is the futility of politics.?
Big Dog's Leadership Quotes
57. "Every organization must be prepared to abandon everything it does
to survive in the future."
58. "A business exists to create a customer."
59. "Capital formation is shifting from the entrepreneur who invests
in the future to the pension trustee who invests in the past."
60. "The only things that evolve by themselves in an organization are
disorder, friction, and malperformance.
61. "There is an enormous number of managers who have retired on the job."
62. "The basic economic resource - the means of production - is no
longer capital, nor natural resources, nor labor. It is and will be
63. "Knowledge gives choice."
Business Training Works
64. "Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It
is what the client or customer gets out of it."
65. "The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise
is that there are no results inside its walls. The result of a
business is a satisfied customer."
66. "The computer actually may have aggravated management's
degenerative tendency to focus inward on costs."
67. "Management" means, in the last analysis, the substitution of
thought for brawn and muscle, of knowledge for folklore and
superstition, and of cooperation for force... "
68. "Because its purpose is to create a customer, the business has two
- and only two - functions: Marketing and Innovation. Marketing and
Innovation produce results. All the rest are costs"
69. "Charisma becomes the undoing of leaders. It makes them
inflexible, convinced of their own infallibility, unable to change"
70. "Communication always makes demands. It always demands that the
recipient become somebody, do something, believe something. It always
appeals to motivation."
71. "Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked;
leadership is defined by results not attributes"
72. "In all recorded history there has not been one economist who has
had to worry about where the next meal would come from"
73. "In today's economy, the most important resource is no longer
labor, capital or land; it is knowledge"
74. "Leadership is not a magnetic personality - that can just as well
be a glib tongue. It is not 'making friends and influencing people' -
that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to high
sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard,
the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations."
75. "Management by objectives works if you first think through your
objectives. Ninety percent of the time you haven't"
76. "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things"
77. "No executive has ever suffered because his subordinates were
strong and effective"
78. "Plans are worthless, but planning is invaluable"
79. "So much of what we call management consists in making it
difficult for people to work"
80. "Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing
else can be managed"
81. "Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes... but no plans"
82. "Whenever anything is?being done, I have learned, it is being
done by a monomaniac with a mission"
83. "Managers must convert society's needs into opportunities for
84. "Profit is not the explanation, cause, or rationale of business
behavior and business decisions, but rather the test of their
validity. If archangels instead of businessmen sat in directors'
charis, they would still have to be concerned with profitability,
despite their total lack of personal interest in making profits."
85. "The effective person therefore knows that to manage his time, he
first has to know where it actually goes."
Favorite Quotes, Brian Douglas Skinner
86. "The first question is 'What should you be doing?' Not how. There
is very little joy in heaven or on earth over an engineering
department that, with great zeal, great expertise, and great
diligence, produces drawings for the wrong product. "
Woopidoo Business Quotes
87. "The most efficient way to produce anything is to bring together
under one management as many as possible of the activities needed to
turn out the product."
88. "Some of the best business and nonprofit CEOs I've worked with
over a sixty-five-year consulting career were not stereotypical
leaders. They were all over the map in terms of their personalities,
attitudes, values, strengths, and weaknesses."
89. "Checking the results of a decision against its expectations shows
executives what their strengths are, where they need to improve, and
where they lack knowledge or information."
90. "Making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level."
91. "The new information technology.. Internet and e-mail.. have
practically eliminated the physical costs of communications."
92. "Suppliers and especially manufacturers have market power because
they have information about a product or a service that the customer
does not and cannot have, and does not need if he can trust the brand.
This explains the profitability of brands."
93. "The corporation is the ?master?, the employee is the ?servant?.
Because the corporation owns the means of production without which the
employee could not make a living, the employee needs the corporation
more than vice versa."
94. "One of the great movements in my lifetime among educated people
is the need to commit themselves to action. Most people are not
satisfied with giving money; we also feel we need to work."
95. "A manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge."
96. "Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer."
97. "Borrowers of books - those mutilators of collections, spoilers of
the symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes."
98. "Business, that's easily defined - it's other people's money."
99. "Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change
one. Try, instead, to work with what you've got."
100. "Efficiency is doing better what is already being done."
101. "Everybody has accepted by now that change is unavoidable. But
that still implies that change is like death and taxes it should be
postponed as long as possible and no change would be vastly
preferable. But in a period of upheaval, such as the one we are living
in, change is the norm."
102. "Few companies that installed computers to reduce the employment
of clerks have realized their expectations... They now need more, and
more expensive clerks even though they call them 'operators' or
103. "Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet
reflection will come even more effective action."
104. "Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. The
act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth."
105. "Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased
constantly, or it vanishes."
106. "Management by objective works - if you know the objectives.
Ninety percent of the time you don't."
107. "My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a
108. "Never mind your happiness; do your duty."
109. "No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or
supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be
able to get along under a leadership composed of average human
110. "Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have
not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of
competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the "naturals," the
ones who somehow know how to teach."
111. "The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so
well the product or service fits him and sells itself."
112. "The computer is a moron."
113. "The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and
exploits it as an opportunity."
114. "The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different."
115. "The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker
but of the manager."
116. "The purpose of a business is to create a customer."
117. "The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer."
118. "Today knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and
119. "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a
country road at night with no lights while looking out the back
120. "We can say with certainty - or 90% probability - that the new
industries that are about to be born will have nothing to do with
121. "We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of
keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach
people how to learn."
122. "When a subject becomes totally obsolete we make it a required course."
Additional Link of Interest
The Essential Drucker : The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's
Essential Writings on Management
The Daily Drucker
Phew, I hope you like the list! If you have any questions, please
post a clarification request and wait for me to respond before
closing/r5ating my answer.
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