Back in the fourteenth century, in Canton, China, an inspired artisan introduced the carving of concentric spheres from a single piece of ivory. When I first saw a sample of this awe-inspiring skill, I asked, "How did they get those little spheres inside each other?" And the answer my astute friend gave is, "The little spheres were always inside the larger ones, but it took the talent and the imagination of a master artist to set them free." Chief executives are business artisans. Their corporate universes are comprised of worlds within worlds. The relationship, the interdependence, and the values in those worlds can only be visualized, carved, polished, and given value by those who possesses the knowledge, the understanding, the experience, the patience, and the consummate skill of master management artists. All they have to do is carve out the extraneous stuff that doesn't fit their vision of a masterpiece. Thinking of masterpieces, I immediately reached into my collection of Peter F. Drucker's books and pulled out his "Bible" for managers. It's a 24-year-old, 839-page volume titled Management: tasks, responsibilities, practices (1974, Harper & Row). Some Drucker management gems:
- "Management is work, and as such it has its own skills, its own tools, its own techniques. The stress (of the book) is not on skills, tools, and techniques. It is not even on the work of management. It is on the tasks."
- "Management is the organ, the life-giving, acting, dynamic organ of the institution it manages."
- "While management is a discipline--that is, an organized body of knowledge and as such applicable everywhere--it is also a 'culture.'"
- "Management is also people. Every achievement of management is the achievement of a manager. Every failure is the failure of a manager. . . . The vision, the dedication, the integrity of managers determine whether there is management or mismanagement."
- Whoever has the primary responsibility should have the final say.
- Managers should not make decisions when they do not have responsibility.
- Members of the top management team don't have to like one another.
- Top management teams are not committees. They are teams. They need captains. If your ego won't let you accept that, get off the team.
- Top management requires systematic and intensive communications. Less about how important you are and more about how important your company's objectives are.