A Mini-Guide to Peter Drucker’s Writings on the Future
December 9th, 2015
Many of Peter Drucker’s books include references to future-oriented topics. There is a four-page selected reader’s guide to these writings in my book Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way. I’ve adapted that section for this streamlined guide to some of the books that will help you navigate the future most successfully:
The Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines to our Changing Society (1969): This is about the broad changes Drucker identified that were happening in society at the end of the turbulent decade of the 1960s, as exemplified by the title to Chapter 1: “The End of Continuity.”
The Drucker Lectures (2010): The final chapters are “The Future of the Corporation,” Parts 1-4, from lectures given in 2003 at the Claremont Graduate University.
Landmarks of Tomorrow (1957): A wide-ranging book about work, education, government and society; which the cover proclaims to be “A Report on the New “Post-Modern” World.”
Management Challenges for the 21st Century (1999): Drucker’s last book of completely new material. In particular see Chapter 3 on “The Change Leader,” with its concluding section, “Making the Future.”
Management: Revised Edition (2008): The revised, updated version of 1974’s Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices includes a somewhat shorter version of the chapter on the future in Managing for Results. Another chapter is “The Future of the Corporation and the Way Ahead,” and the concluding chapter is “The Manager of Tomorrow.”
Managing for Results (1964): This contains one of his most prominent statements on the future: a chapter called “Making the Future Today”. He explains the idea of ‘the future that has already happened’ and also ‘making the future happen.’
Managing for the Future: The 1990s and Beyond (1993): The concluding chapter, in this case the afterword, is a reprint of a long briefing he wrote in 1990 for The Economist. (Its title is the same as the subtitle of the book.)
Managing in the Next Society (2002): This contains an important extended statement, “The Next Society,” which comprises the final section of the book and was originally a 19-page guest feature in The Economist.
Managing in Turbulent Times (1980): Contains powerful material on the future, including the 26-page second chapter, “Managing for Tomorrow.”
The New Realities (1989): Drucker explains in the preface: “This book does not focus on what to do tomorrow. It focuses on what to do today in contemplation of tomorrow. Within self-imposed limitations, it attempts to set the agenda.”
Peter F. Drucker on the Profession of Management (1998): This collection from the Harvard Business Review includes the 1997 essay “The Future That Has Already Happened,” as well as an interview with T. George Harris, “The Post-Capitalist Executive.”
Post-Capitalist Society (1993): Two quotes from the introduction are particularly pertinent: “It is not a history of the future. Rather, it is a look at the present.” And similarly, he ends the Introduction with this: “Yet surely this is a time to make the future – precisely because everything is in flux. This is a time for action.”