William A. Cohen, one of the most astute writers on the work of Peter Drucker, has released his third Drucker-related book in the past five years: Drucker on Marketing: Lessons from the World’s Most Influential Business Thinker. He was Drucker’s first executive PhD student, in the 1970s, at what is now the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito School of Management at Claremont Graduate University, in California. Now he has combined his own background in marketing with his extensive knowledge of and insight into Drucker’s work. The terrific foreword to the book is by Philip Kotler, the S.C. Johnson & Son Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, often called the “father of modern marketing.” Kotler reveals that upon first meeting Drucker, they discovered a mutual, serious interest in Japanese art.
I’ve known Bill Cohen since 2007, a year before the publication of his first Drucker-focused book, A Class with Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World’s Greatest Management Teacher, and two years before my book Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life. Both of us participated in the Drucker Authors Festival at the Drucker-Ito School in 2010. Bill exemplifies a fascinating aspect of so many Drucker followers: they are high-achieving, very well-rounded people. Among other things, he is a retired Air Force major general, and a highly prolific author with an extensive background in both business and academia. He is now president of the California Institute of Advanced Management.
In Drucker on Marketing, Cohen collects, analyzes and synthesizes Drucker’s most important thoughts on the subject, and shows how they have applied to specific business cases and can be applied in your own business, now and in the future. His style is direct and conversational, and the analysis is enlivened with examples such as FedEx’s failure with its Zap Mail service of 1984, and how the entrepreneur Peter Hodgson discovered and bought the rights to an obscure General Electric product that eventually became known to millions as Silly Putty. Despite the importance Drucker placed on marketing, he never devoted an entire book to it. I think he’d be pleased with Drucker on Marketing.