Peter Drucker on Innovation and Entrepreneurship


You may get tired of me singing the praises of the great management guru Peter Drucker – I mentioned him again in yesterday’s post. But as I walked through my library this week, I stumbled upon his book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, first published in 1985 (Harper Business). As I opened it briefly just to remind myself of his key points, it came back to me what an amazing man he was and what an amazing book this is. I could not put it down.
In my 2001 book, I dealt extensively with similar ideas, and hopefully added some new “tricks” which you can use to think creatively – see my Monday posts for more about them. But I have to admit that this Drucker book should be the starting point, perhaps even “the bible,” for anyone who aspires to build enterprises or to think creatively about new ideas.
His catalog of the seven sources of innovation is worth the admission price alone: the unexpected, incongruities, process need, industry and market structures, demographics, changes in perception, and new knowledge. While the dividing lines can get a bit blurry – like many dividing lines in life – I would be hard pressed to come up with an improved list. And I have been studying “how to dream up new business ideas” for about 46 years. (I started keeping a list of business innovation methods as a teenager.)
His point about how innovation is a habit and method of approaching problems is incredibly important. It isn’t usually some one-in-a-million genius waking up with a brand new idea that changes the world. It’s usually more normal people working their rear ends off, observing the world, thinking hard about it, combining old ideas in new ways. Innovation is not magic; it is a daily part of life once you get in the right habits.
I won’t give away all of Mr. Drucker’s points. Suffice it to say that his insights into entrepreneurship – whether inside a big corporation or at the startup level – are equally accurate and thought-provoking. This straight-forward paperback is one of the best investments I have ever made.   I think I should reread it at least once every year, just to “stay in shape.”
(PS – if you’re wondering why I placed this post on Friday, rather than Monday for “Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” it’s because this is one book that applies to the largest of corporations every bit as much as it applies to smaller and younger businesses. And besides, I have more content than I can fit onto the Monday posts.)