Personal Productivity

Peter Drucker, on Self-Management

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
Motivation Self-Improvement Workplace
"The need to manage oneself is creating a revolution in human affairs." ~ Peter Drucker, 2005

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Peter F. Drucker (1909 ~ 2005), Austrian-born American, was probably the most influential business management author of the twentieth century. His books on management are studied in the most prestigious business schools and have served as inspiration for countless entrepreneurs and corporate executives.

Besides many other brilliant contributions to the world of management, it was Drucker who, in the mid-50s, began to envision and highlight the value of workers in business. At a time of the Industrial Age in which companies were considered moneymaking machines and their workers something to be eliminated by cheaper and more efficient automations, Drucker began to say that companies were human communities and workers their essential assets—and they needed to be respected.

Drucker came to question the morality of capitalism and companies of the time, and it was who introduced in the 70s the concept of knowledge worker. Workers whose main contribution is knowledge. People who do not execute merely routine tasks and, therefore, their contribution lies on their ability to think, in a divergent and convergent manner, and on their creativity.

At the end of his career, Drucker was more focused on the study of personal management than on business management 1. He realized that self-management is absolutely necessary for knowledge workers in the 21st century. He said that, given the increased longevity of humans and the increasingly insecure employment situation, individuals must be aware of what their values ​​and strengths are, what they can contribute, and how they can improve their performance.

In 1999, Drucker identified six key factors for knowledge worker personal productivity:

  1. Knowledge workers must be able to answer the question “What is the task?”
  2. They must be responsible for their work. This means that they have to manage themselves.
  3. Continuing innovation is part of the work.
  4. Continuous learning is part of the job, as it is continuous teaching.
  5. Productivity is not a matter of quantity of output. Quality is at least as important.
  6. Knowledge workers need to want to work for a particular organization and to this end, the organization must consider that the worker is an asset, not a cost.

So whether you work for yourself or for a company, in today’s world you need to enhance your ability to be autonomous through the knowledge of yourself. Society demands knowledge workers that, in addition to doing well what they do well, know to manage themselves, defining their own tasks and focusing on those that are most important at the time. In short, it is up to you to find your place in the work world and to be able to contribute in a work life that may well last some 50 years.

Here are twelve of the most inspirational quotes from Peter Drucker on self-management:

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Tweet this!

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes — but no plans.” Tweet this!

“Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.” Tweet this!

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” Tweet this!

“What’s measured improves.” Tweet this!

“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.” Tweet this!

“There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.” Tweet this!

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” Tweet this!

“A person can perform only from strength. One cannot build performance on weakness, let alone on something one cannot do at all.” Tweet this!

“The problem in my life and other people’s lives is not the absence of knowing what to do but the absence of doing it.” Tweet this!

“People in general, and knowledge workers in particular, grow according to the demands they make on themselves.” Tweet this!

“Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves – their strengths, their values, and how they best perform.” Tweet this!

1 Notes: Managing oneself, by Peter F. Drucker, 1999

Francisco Sáez

Francisco is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a Software Engineer who is passionate about personal productivity and the GTD philosophy as a means to a better life.

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Commented almost 9 years ago Brecht

Thanks for sharing Francisco ! Some great stuff!


Thanks for sharing Francisco ! Some great stuff!

Commented almost 9 years ago Francisco Sáez

Thank you, @Brecht!

Francisco Sáez

Thank you, @Brecht!

Commented almost 9 years ago Karin

Thanks for sharing your insights! In addition to the six key factors Drucker mentioned I recommend to read Drive by Daniel Pink. It deepens the point Drucker is making.


Thanks for sharing your insights! In addition to the six key factors Drucker mentioned I recommend to read Drive by Daniel Pink. It deepens the point Drucker is making.

Commented almost 9 years ago Francisco Sáez

Thanks @Karin! Absolutely, you've mentioned my favorite book on motivation.

Francisco Sáez

Thanks @Karin! Absolutely, you've mentioned my favorite book on motivation.

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