Peter Drucker on the Five Deadly Business Sins

February 22, 2006

Every so often I read a genuinely electrifying article, one that makes me sit bolt upright in an 'ah-ha!' moment as it crystallizes things I've been stumbling towards.

Peter Drucker's The Five Deadly Business Sins is one such article. Go read it now; I'll wait. (It nailed me to the floor so much that I have a copy saved in case the Wall Street Journal ever removes it or moves it behind their pay-wall.)

Looking back over my entries, I can see how several of them are linked to various of Drucker's deadly sins; MarchOfTheCheap is probably the most direct example. I also had the experience of thinking 'I recognize that behavior', for example realizing that Ikea does priced based costing (they even tell you so) and suddenly understanding more of why.

It's kind of depressing to look around the tech landscape now and try to spot the deadly sins in action, because it's not too hard. It's more than ten years after Peter Drucker wrote his article and companies are still routinely doing all of them. (And as Drucker says at the end, it's not like this stuff was new when he wrote about it in 1993.)

I can even depress myself by taking an honest look at what we do around here in light of Drucker's fifth sin, 'feeding problems and starving opportunities'. What might we achieve if we were willing to make a serious investment in sysadmin infrastructure development? What opportunities to build better systems are we not even noticing?

(And it strikes me as telling that all the successful impressive systems, like Google, have put a lot of effort into developing things and not so much into firefighting monkeys.)

Comments on this page:

From at 2006-02-22 20:02:34:

Sin #1 is nothing but the result of Druker's muddled thinking attempting to grasp the Innovator's Dilemma. Has he ever read Christiansen? Looks unlikely from the text. But it he did, he might have noticed how chasing profit margins saved Intel when DRAM business became unprofitable.

Not to mention that what he says about U.S. auto makers is garbage. He just does not know squat about cars, apparently. Has he driven a Neon?

How comes that Japanese companies were chasing market share at the expense of profit margins and drove themselves into the ground, so much so that they have to hire foreign CEOs (formerly unthinkabe)?

What a dud. I pity his students.

Written on 22 February 2006.
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