Peter Drucker: Great ideas, ignored.

A BusinessWeek cover story on Peter Drucker lists great humanistic values that corporations have ignored.

I just read this week's BW cover story on management guru Peter Drucker, who died a week ago at age 95. The theme is that his ideas guide modern management. But as I read the list, I grew skeptical.

A couple samples:

-- He was the first to assert -- in the 1950s -- that workers should be treated as assets, not as liabilities to be eliminated.

-- He originated the view of the corporation as a human community -- again, in the 1950s -- built on trust and respect for the worker and not just a profit-making machine, a perspective that won Drucker an almost godlike reverence among the Japanese.

-- He argued in the 1960s -- long before others -- for the importance of substance over style, for institutionalized practices over charismatic, cult leaders.

Who has embraced these ideas? Think about it. Charismatic cult leaders, from Larry Ellison to Hank Greenberg, have done just fine in the last five decades. Workers are now paid ever smaller fractions of the CEO's lordly salary. And for all the talk about respect for human capital, workers get dumped wholescale as investors applaud. I'd say Drucker, like an army chaplain, was the guy execs listened to reverently before returning to the brutish fray.

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