Peter Drucker, Baseball, and a Manga Heroine

The leadership text Dilemmas of Leadership presents one exercise set in an airport departure lounge. A young MBA is shown a book by the CEO of the company who intends to apply it throughout the organization. How might the MBA quickly evaluate the value of the book? The exercise introduces the concept of assessing the virtues of any text by ‘map-reading, map-testing and map-making’. A real-life example occured recently in Japan

An example similar to the Airport Lounge exercise can be found in the leadership actions in the Japanese company Zoff. Its CEO Takeshi Uono had been captivated by the story told in a best-selling management book in Japan “What if the female manager of a High –School baseball team read Drucker’s ‘management’?”

A Japanese Perspective

Blogger Eugene Woodbury came across the story while following a Japanese TV programme which mentions the book: もし高校野球の女子マネージャーがドラッカーの『マネジメント』を読んだら」 and its author Natsumi Iwasaki (岩崎夏海). Woodbury points out that Drucker, like Deming before him, was less accepted as ‘ a prophet in his own country’ than in Japan.

The Economist’s review

According to the Economist, [July 3rd, 2010]

“Mr Ueno told his staff to read it. Satoko Osanai, his sales manager did ..and became an instant fan of the late management guru, Peter Drucker. After reading the book, she says, she started treating colleagues and customers differently… The book, complete with a picture of a gamine schoolgirl on the cutsey manga cover… topped 1 million sales as news travelled from office to café to home.. what’s more, sales for Drucker’s original works have soared.”

In the book, Miname, a fictional teenager, discovers Peter Drucker’s ideas and applies them to her high-school baseball team with all the trials and tribulations to be expected before eventual triumph for Miname and her team.

How the book encouraged more ‘map-testing’

Mr Ueno and his managers had encountered a book whose map is based on one of the most influential of all management writers. The choice of guru was a good one (although Drucker disliked being called a guru: he said the word was used because it is easier to spell than the word charlatan). The subsequent rise in sales of Peter Drucker’s books in Japan suggests that some readers of the popular tale of the teen-age Minami went on to additional ‘map-testing’ and possibly to better-informed planning for the future (‘map-making’).

In the spirit of romantic fiction (and of many popular ‘how to do it’ management books), Minami’s leadership results are spectacular. However, most management theorists are suspicious of any book which promises an easy recipe for success. The map-reading, map-testing, and map- making approach avoids the dilemma of accepting the basic promise in a book unthinkingly, or rejecting it in its entirety.

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One Response to Peter Drucker, Baseball, and a Manga Heroine

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Map Making is essential for business.

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