Sauron and Effective Businesses: an analogy

(these chapters resonated with me like a tuning fork so we’re gonna go a little crazy on this one, but bear with me. Being a good human person is a pretty good thing to do, and nonprofit work is my jam, so just sit back, get a soda, and read on.)


I’ll be completely honest: these are the two chapters (so far) that have held the most importance for me, my future, and just general interest. I’m SO glad Drucker included the “business” of non-profit work in his book on management, for a lot of reasons. But before I jump right in, I really want to focus on his integration of management into this chapter.

Of course, this whole book aims to reflect management in all its forms, generally through the lense of some aspect of business. But his direct reference of management (in my opinion) expands a little bit past the previous messages/meanings of management he’s been discussing in previous chapters. It is almost as if he’s revealed more about management in a passing gesture than he has attempted to do directly. This is the quote:

“But they [the nonprofits] also realize that good intentions are no substitute for organization and leadership, for accountability, performance, and results. Those things require management and that, in turn, begins with the organization’s mission.”

Up til now Drucker has imposed upon the reader that management is an act of all-seeing, professional wisdom that some, whom understand the game properly, can rise up to achieve. In a sense, managers swivel their wheely chairs across the Black Lands of Office Space, looking for improvement and ways to make their company more efficient. While my allusion here is a little extreme, managers (as we all believe) are Lords of their domain, and we, the half-lings, run back and forth trying to stay out of their gaze. However, here, in this quote above, it becomes apparent that management is often just a manager who is, more often than not, human, who held accountable for their actions, performance, and positive and negative results as they align with the overall company goal.

While this might not seem like a revelation to some, the idea that a manager can literally be anyone, and often times, it is a human touch to an enterprise that is the revolutionary act– that is what’s surprising. Which leads me to my next point:

There is no secret formula to success, other than listening to your customer, and in that regard, your fellow human. What fascinates me about the human condition is that when we are determined to be always, and forever, right– when clear data suggests otherwise. The “hoax” surrounding global warming comes to mind. When someone steps aside, however, and lets a “subordinate” generate ideas, success tends to be mind-blowing. If anyone has seen Deadpool recently, and the exquisite rendition of the Marvel character that team put together, then you know what I’m talking about.

In recent years, the definition of the bottom line has expanded into the triple bottom line to include two other things that had been horrifyingly left out of the business model: profits AND planet AND PEOPLE. While it’s easy to blame the Supreme Court’s decision in 1919 that Ford motors did in fact owe a responsibility to its shareholders as the reason for focusing on profits more than the people who create and survive from those products, the simple fact is that greed is an overwhelming force. So much so that corporate social responsibility is being treated with awe, and respect, and praise, when in reality, it’s literally just people with bigger hats and shinier name plates being nicer to those who don’t.

That’s what I mean when I say it in fact is a revelation that managers are just people too because we’ve been conditioned to believe that big business is a terrible empire of the Dark, and while what they’re doing to the planet is terrible, there really isn’t much to be done to stop it. But when we chose to believe that the everyday person– a volunteer, a priest, a convict– can actually do something to shake up the status quo, well, hey, the nameless troopers are suddenly John Boyega* with his big smile and purple suit– and not so unchangeable after all.

Institutions with a lot of control operate with fear. Nonprofits aim to combat fear in all its many forms: starvation, sickness, disease, war, etc. However, a commitment to management, organization (yes, that means color coordinated calendars), and leadership are things that make a company (or anyone) successful, financially or otherwise.

But it is a respect for your fellow human being creates legacy, for which you will always be remembered.


*John Boyega is Finn, the rebel Stormtrooper in the new Star Wars movie. He’s a very nice human being, and yes, he wore a purple suit to one of the launches of TFA.

2 Comments, RSS

  1. rolandgarofalo February 22, 2016 @ 11:08 am

    It was cool to see that you found some personal drive within these chapters! I too found it important that Drucker included nonprofits within his book, as they really are equally relevant within the business world. What some people tend to forget is that nonprofits are just as much of a business as for-profits, they just do things a little differently. This is where the mission statement, values, and all of that come into play. Nonprofits must rely much more on strong establishment of their purpose within society if they wish to be successful, because they aren’t selling a product that will immediately bring them success. Because of this, their managers, and even stuff must be very keen on the way they present their company. The inverse can also be said about for-profits, in that recent shifts have caused a higher demand for transparency and ethical business. As you mentioned, the triple bottom line is now a huge concept for all business, and I also think this is extremely important.

  2. taylorbibaud February 23, 2016 @ 3:45 am

    Such important lessons to be learned in these chapters, great to non-profit businesses getting the attention they deserve as their management lessons tend to be so much more pure than those tainted with the scent of greed. Wonderful job of taking Drucker’s opinions and turning them into achievable, actionable messages. Non-profits are all around us, supporting the things that we care about, and all we have to do is dedicate time to be able to make a lasting difference.

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