Leaning Into
What’s Trying
to Happen

Leaning Into What’s Trying to Happen

Leaning Into
What’s Trying
to Happen

Leaning Into What’s Trying to Happen

Peter Drucker’s favorite way to make management’s abstractions tangible was to analogize society and its organizations to the human body. In a pandemic, this laces his writing with a bitter irony.

“A healthy business, a healthy university, a healthy hospital cannot exist in a sick society,” Drucker wrote in 1974. “Management has a self-interest in a healthy society, even though the cause of society’s sickness is none of management’s making.”

Society is literally sick from the novel coronavirus that has infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands around the world. But it is also metaphorically sick insofar as management has let atrophy the very strengths we need to effectively navigate this crisis.


Over the past 40 years, according to the Academic-Industry Research Network, large publicly traded U.S. corporations have cut from 50% to just 6% the share of their profits invested in increased R&D, worker training and higher compensation; 94% of profits now go to dividends and share buybacks.


Although there are countless examples of nonprofits doing spectacular work, all too many “settle for mediocrity or cause potential harm to those who have given their trust,” as social sector leader Mario Morino has starkly put it.


Twenty-five years ago, Drucker warned that if smaller government was politicians’ driving goal, “it is predictable that the wrong things will…be cut—the things that perform and should be strengthened.” Sure enough, since 2017 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been gutted.

One of the great challenges now before us is to see below the daily turbulence into the deep currents that have brought us here. “Defining the problem may be the most important element in making effective decisions,” Drucker wrote, “and the one managers pay the least attention to. They try to cure the symptom rather than the disease.”

The fundamental problem as the Drucker Institute sees it is not that business is inordinately focused on short-term financial gains, that too many nonprofits are ineffective or that government is both too big and too small. These are all symptoms.

The disease is an abdication of responsibility. “If the managers of our major institutions . . . do not take responsibility for the common good,” Drucker reminded us, “no one else can or will.”

What is heartening at such a difficult time is that large numbers of managers and organizations from all sectors are reclaiming responsibility for the common good and countering the negative trends with positive ones: Stakeholder capitalism. Lifelong learning. Reinventing government. Social innovation.

Peter Drucker, whose writing and thinking can be found at the root of each of these movements, would have identified them as advancements “already trying to happen on their own.” Our strategy at the Drucker Institute is to lean into the things trying to happen, to leverage the momentum of these movements, to use their burgeoning reach and power to amplify and extend our own work.

That doesn’t mean our aims are easily achievable. In many cases, powerful forces are lined up to resist change and, even where they’re not, inertia alone can make the status quo seem unshakable.

But shakeable it is, and the Drucker Institute has had a greater impact than any of us would have dared hope when it was founded 13 years ago. Day by day, working hard, we’re chipping away at what ails society. In the pages that follow, we hope to give a sense of how we’re contributing to a cure.

— Zach First, Executive Director

A decade ago, lifelong learning was an ideal.Today, it is an imperative. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that up to 800 million global workers could find themselves replaced by automation in the next 10 years, and almost nine out of 10 managers surveyed say they face current or imminent skill gaps within their organizations.

“More than a century has passed since the universal high-school movement took off in the United States and 50 years since the college-for-all movement began,” Arizona State University’s Jeffrey Selingo has written. “Now it’s clear a third wave in the evolution of education is needed to compete in a new economy in which learning can never end.”

The Drucker Institute has added to this latest wave through several programs, including our Harbor Freight Leadership Lab, which aims to improve the effectiveness of skilled trades education leaders in public schools across America.

But the heart of our contribution to lifelong learning has been Bendable, a community-based system that allows residents of all ages and backgrounds to easily acquire new knowledge and skills through online courses as well as in-person learning opportunities.

In June, Bendable debuted in South Bend, Indiana, promising to forge a “city of lifelong learning,” while making the community more resilient in the face of a fast-changing economy. Our plan is to expand to more cities in 2021.

It is an initiative that Peter Drucker would have applauded. He began writing about society’s transition from an industrial age to a knowledge age more than 60 years ago. But he cautioned that it wouldn’t be easy “to build continuous learning into the job and into the organization.”

“Lifelong learning…requires that learning be alluring,” Drucker wrote, “indeed that it become a high satisfaction in itself, if not something the individual craves.”

In South Bend, thousands of residents have come to Bendable in its first few months to access learning resources from 19 local and national content partners. But it’s more than having a great catalog of courses that is motivating them. They are also attracted by a strong sense of trust, which was nurtured over a long period by the Drucker Institute team getting to know the people and organizations of South Bend; listening to them to understand exactly what they need to learn and want to learn and how they like to learn; and designing the system with them in close collaboration.

It is an approach that makes us different. Many players in the space are attempting to produce digital platforms that can link job seekers with credential-bearing educational providers and then line them up in a new career—but they risk falling short because these models are rarely built on a strong foundation of local involvement.

Bendable, by contrast, isn’t powered by an algorithm; it is powered by community.

When Dexter Teague first looked at Bendable, he says, it didn’t seem to offer anything “for someone like me”—a person who has overcome addiction and spent years in prison. But the more he got into it, the more he realized how much learning there is for everyone in the community. Now, Teague is working his way through a “Career Collection,” a learning pathway mapped out with a South Bend business group or a major employer (in this case, General Stamping & Metalworks), as he acquires the skills to be a machine operator. “That is real-life stuff,” he says. “That is something that can give someone hope.”

Terry Rensbergerspent nine years as a middle school teacher. Later, in the private sector, he oversaw a GED program for employees at his company, earning recognition as the Indiana Adult Literacy Partner of the Year. Today, Rensberger is the student. He is using Bendable to study world religions, something that has always interested him. That Rensberger has tapped into a humanities class like that on Bendable highlights one of our central beliefs: While people often want to learn for work, sometimes they want to learn for other reasons—so they can cook a healthier meal for their family or better handle their personal finances. Other times, they might want to learn something just because they’re curious about it. By making all of this available on Bendable, we intend to cultivate in people the habit of continuous learning and enhance not only their job prospects but their overall well-being. “I believe the opportunity to continue to learn is valuable to society,” Rensberger says. “The more that people know, the better off we are.”

For Seth Ponder, an engineering teacher at Riley High School in South Bend, Bendable has served double duty: He has had his students tap into the system for courses on digital citizenship and job skills. Meantime, as he and his Riley colleagues have prepared for reopening campus in the wake of the pandemic, Seth has leaned on Bendable’s COVID-19 resources to learn how to do so safely. Whether it’s learning for his students or for himself, Bendable has become a platform he can rely on for high-quality content. “It’s so nice to have all of this selected for us,” Ponder says. “It’s all right there.”

Milt Lee, executive director of the nonprofit DTSB (for Downtown South Bend), and Kate Lee, executive director of education and workforce at the South Bend Regional Chamber, have both made it their life’s work to help the city prosper. So it’s no surprise that husband and wife have each contributed collections to Bendable. Milt’s “Community Collection” is on how to safely reopen a business amid the coronavirus, which has generated positive feedback. “It was encouraging at a time when I was really discouraged about people’s ability to learn from each other,” he says. Kate built out a “Career Collection” showcasing the fundamental skills—being part of a team, handling technology and so on—needed to be job-ready. “What I love about Bendable is the way that it aligns around people’s interests and gives them an entry point—or a re-entry point—to education,” she says. “And doing that with our community instead of for our community or to our community, that’s what makes it different.”

Of the dozens of community stakeholders involved with Bendable in South Bend, one stands at the center of it all: the St. Joseph County Public Library. Responsible for administering and stewarding Bendable in close partnership with the Drucker Institute, the library is the perfect local backbone organization. It is warm and welcoming and makes everyone it serves feel cared for and connected. Lifelong learning is a key part of its mission. And it is a bold innovator, willing to stretch—or, well, to be bendable. “I love the challenge of figuring out the best ways to bring people what they need and want from their library, and I like to challenge traditional models of service,” says Debra Futa, the library’s executive director. “A very fast ‘yes’ to a new idea is what got us into Bendable in the first place.”

For Fenil Patel, a cloud engineer, personal computers have been a passion for as long as he can remember. That’s why he put together a “Community Collection” on Bendable on how to build your own gaming PC. Community Collections are personal playlists from local residents of their favorite learning resources—courses, TED Talks, workshops, podcasts, books and so forth—on a particular topic. They are a way for those across the community not only to learn but also to teach, and the range of subjects is wide: starting a houseplant collection, staying fit, making films, reckoning with the history of racism, voting as an informed citizen and much more. For his part, Patel hopes those who explore the collection will have as much fun as he has getting into the guts of technology. “I wanted to impart my knowledge and love for tech to anyone who wants to get started in it but doesn’t know where to look,” he says.

For six weeks this summer, 89 young people took part in a jobs program through South Bend Venues Parks & Arts—and Bendable was their partner. They took five different courses and a career assessment, with 87% of participants indicating that the learning was “relevant to my future.” Eighteen-year-
old Devan Negron found the course on goal setting to be particularly useful. “I learned to take small steps and go at a steady pace,” he says.

Before people felt compelled to use the term “stakeholder capitalism” (or “conscious capitalism” or “inclusive capitalism” or “citizen capitalism,” as it is variously called) they simply spoke of “capitalism.”

During the 1950s and ’60s, it was widely held that a corporation had a responsibility to deliver value to everyone it touched. “The job of management,” Standard Oil Chairman Frank Abrams declared, “is to maintain an equitable and working balance among the claims of the various directly affected interest groups—stockholders, employees, customers and the public at large.”

But in the 1970s, dissenters began to make a very different case: The interests of those who own a company’s stock should always come first. Within a decade, this was the new consensus. And it has pretty much been that way since then. “We work for our shareholders,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said last year. “Our job is to make sure that we’re maximizing value for them.”

And yet, over the past five to 10 years, shareholder primacy has faced a growing backlash among scholars, policymakers and certain business leaders who see that this position has led companies to focus inordinately on short-term profits.

This obsession with quarterly earnings and daily share price has, in turn, contributed to exploding income inequality and environmental degradation, and it has even undermined corporations’ own ability to innovate.

The Drucker Institute has been among those helping to make this case. Through our company rankings and a related financial index, we have used the rigor of good data science to show the tremendous value that is generated when management can effectively serve their shareholders, yes, but also their employees, customers and the greater community.

As Peter Drucker wrote in 1988, far too much in society “depends on the economic fortunes of large enterprises to subordinate them completely to the interests of any one group, including shareholders.”

We still have a long way to go until stakeholder capitalism becomes just “capitalism” again. But we’re getting closer all the time.

1932

Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means publish The Modern Corporation and Private Property, pointing out that, for better or worse, shareholders “have surrendered the right that the corporation should be operated in their sole interest.

1954

Peter Drucker’s landmark book The Practice of Management implores those running companies to consider whether every action they take “is likely to promote the public good, to advance the basic beliefs of our society, to contribute to its stability, strength and harmony.”

1956

General Motors writes to its shareholders, “The continuing progress of a successful business rests on balanced recognition of the equities of all concerned—shareholders, employees, suppliers, dealers, customers and the public at large.”

1970

Milton Friedman pushes against the grain in his New York Times Magazine article, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits.”

1976

Michael Jensen and William Meckling, professors at the University of Rochester, assert in the Journal of Financial Economics that managers are the “agents” of the shareholders,and their sole function is to maximize shareholder value. It goes on to become the most cited academic business paper
of all time.

1985

Time magazine puts on its cover “Corporate Raider T. Boone Pickens,” who points to Michael Jensen’s scholarship to justify his hard-charging tactics in pressing management to increase shareholder value.

1987

The movie “Wall Street” stars Michael Douglas as corporate raider Gordon Gekko, who declares “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”

1992

Building on his earlier writings, Peter Drucker warns: “It is futile to argue, as Milton Friedman, the American economist and Nobel-laureate does, that a business has only one responsibility: economic performance.”

1997

January

British management consultant John Elkington rejects shareholder primacy and publishes a book laying out the “triple bottom line,” which calls for firms instead to measure people, planet and profit.

Photo By: JP Renaut

1997

September

The Business Roundtable cements the primacy of shareholders by declaring that “the paramount duty of management and of boards of directors is to the corporation’s stockholders; the interests of other stakeholders are relevant as a derivative of the duty to stockholders.”

1997

September

The Global Reporting Initiative, which helps organizations understand their impact on conditions such as human rights and climate change,
is conceived.

1998

The Aspen Institute founds its Business and Society Program, which works “with business executives and scholars to align business decisions and investments with the long-term health of society.”

2006

Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan and Andrew Kassoy found B Lab, a nonprofit organization that strives to “harness the power of business to help address society’s greatest challenges.”

2011

Jean Rogers founds the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, a nonprofit organization that promotes standardized reporting of data on environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts.

2013

The Drucker Institute convenes a group of scholars and executives in Claremont to discuss getting businesses to renounce shareholder primacy and focus more on the long term.

2014

Inspired by the 2013 meeting, work begins at the Drucker Institute on developing a set of company rankings to gauge how effectively a company is managed in terms of delivering value to all of its stakeholders.

2017

The Management Top 250, a kind of “best-managed companies” list based on the Drucker Institute’s rankings, makes its debut in The Wall Street Journal. It evaluates customer satisfaction, employee engagement and development, innovation, social responsibility and financial strength at hundreds of big companies.

2018

The Drucker Institute’s
Rick Wartzman joins the Aspen Institute’s Judy Samuelson and journalists Steven Pearlstein and Joe Nocera at a small dinner with Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase and chairman of the Business Roundtable, and challenges Dimon to change the group’s official policy endorsing shareholder primacy.

2019

February

The S&P/Drucker Institute Corporate Effectiveness Index, which is based on the Institute’s rankings model and tracks 100 stocks, is released.

2019

August

The Business Roundtable alters its stance, saying now that its CEO members “share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders” and pledge “to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.”

2019

November

First Trust Portfolios
launches the S&P/Drucker Institute Corporate Effectiveness Portfolio, making available to the public an investment product that is centered on the Institute’s broad, stakeholder-oriented approach.

2020

May

California State Controller Betty Yee enlists the Drucker Institute to help design a system requiring companies to disclose how well they are serving the interests of their stakeholders, starting with employees. That work is ongoing.

Just because a movement has been around for a while doesn’t mean that it has grown old. Such is the case with “Reinventing Government,” which was made famous by a highly influential 1992 book of that name by veteran city manager Ted Gaebler and journalist David Osborne. The following year, Vice President Al Gore spearheaded an effort to reform the way the government operates. It included “reinvention teams” and “reinvention laboratories” within different federal agencies.

Peter Drucker’s fingerprints were all over this. Gaebler and Osborne called Drucker “perhaps the single most influential thinker” in shaping their views. And in 1994, Drucker addressed federal officials in Washington as part of the vice president’s initiative, imploring those in attendance to better serve the public and not just slash costs; to instill the discipline of continuous improvement; and to set benchmarks, measure results and hold officials accountable for meeting them.

“What you have accomplished is remarkable and important,” Drucker told his audience. “It is the first step. It is time to start work on the next ones.”

In the decades since then, many government leaders have done just that. Although the term “Reinventing Government” is used less frequently these days than it once was, its tenets remain integral to a number of programs dedicated to lifting the performance of public sector officials.

Among them is our own Drucker Playbook for the Public Sector. It trains government employees by sharing Peter Drucker’s indispensable insights on management and leadership and provides them with tools for effectiveness. Since 2016, when it was launched, the Drucker Playbook has been used by 17 cities across the United States, as well as by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Reserve Bank of India.

One organization that has used the Playbook is the fire department in Memphis, Tennessee. Recently, the department’s point person on the project, Ronny Beasley, took a new job: to be chief of the fire department in La Vergne, just outside Nashville. It’s a transition that Beasley believes owes a lot to the Drucker Playbook, which opened his eyes to new possibilities and to his own inner strengths.

Two months into the new job, which he describes as drinking from a “five-inch hose” (firefighters are precise about this sort of thing), Beasley sat down for an interview to talk about his experiences with the Playbook.

Ronny Beasley

Chief of the Fire-Rescue Department, La Vergne, Tennessee

How did you get into this line of work?
I’m a second-generation firefighter. That’s the only thing I ever wanted to be, except for relief pitcher for the New York Yankees.

How did you learn of the Drucker Playbook for the Public Sector?
I was the chief of training for the Memphis Fire Department and working closely with the Memphis human resources department. The director of that department had set up a session with Lawrence Greenspun of the Drucker Institute.

What did you think?
I immediately saw the value in it. I asked 60 mid-level and senior leaders from the Memphis Fire Department to come to the first session, which was mandatory, and about 25 participants chose to continue and complete all the modules over the next six months.

What was helpful about those sessions?
For me, the Drucker Playbook gave me a tremendous understanding of management and leadership and how they fit together. You know, quality leaders can be managers, and quality managers can be leaders.

What would you say is the difference between leadership and management?
Management is dealing with processes, teams, projects—something that has an expiration date on it. Leadership is about people. It’s how you carry yourself, your facial expressions, your understanding of people, how you sense the pushback or acceptance of what you’re trying to make happen.

Was the Playbook for the fire department customized?
Yes. As we worked, I talked with Lawrence on multiple phone calls about how to bring the content even closer to home for people. So we shared what we had in meetings, and Lawrence built a very solid playbook.

The Drucker Playbook focuses a lot on departmental missions. How did that work for the Memphis Fire Department?
While we already had mission, vision and goals set out by our fire director, we did not have those things defined for each division of the department: logistics, training, apparatus maintenance, fire suppression, EMS, public education on fire prevention—all of these needed to set out their missions.

What was challenging about introducing the Playbook to a fire department?
If you’re asking someone to change their ideas or their processes, they’re giving up something. You have to be understanding of that loss. Because of the fire service’s traditions, we’ve done things one way for 150 years.

What helped people to come around to the Playbook?
We made sure to have people from all divisions and levels in on the process and in the same room. When you hear someone from the alarm office or dispatch office explain to others how their process works and how they’re trying to meet our needs and the needs of the citizens of Memphis, the global picture begins to grow. For the first time in a very long time, the Memphis Fire Department was explaining our processes to mid-level people and those with boots on the ground so they could see how and why we set our mission, vision and goals.

You’ve said that the Playbook also played a role in getting you your current job. How?
The Playbook gave me a deeper understanding of management and leadership, instead of buzzwords. And through these projects I was working on and these training sessions I was doing, I started to realize: Hey, I’m more capable of this stuff than I knew.

What’s an especially formative experience you can share with up-and-coming firefighters and leaders elsewhere?
The first happened on the day after Christmas in 1992, when I’d been out of class for just two months and our rookie company was dispatched to a fire in a church that had collapsed. There were two firefighters trapped inside, and the battalion chief there was under terrible stress, which I could hear in his voice and see in his face. He grabbed my lieutenant by the collar and yelled and took off and ran toward the structure. I was going to chase after the battalion chief because he was the boss, but my lieutenant grabbed me and said, “We don’t run. We walk. We move fast.” Later, he told me why. If you run and you’re out of breath, you don’t get to size up the situation, and you won’t get a good outcome. My lieutenant was very strong and confident, very calm, and I saw a model of leadership that day.

“The Playbook gave me a deeper understanding of management and leadership, instead of buzzwords… I started to realize: Hey, I’m more capable of this stuff than I knew.”
— Ronny Beasley, Fire Department Chief, La Vergne

The second experience happened 11 years later, and that day I had to tell a young firefighter the same thing my lieutenant had told me, under similar circumstances. There was a commercial structure on fire, and two firefighters were trapped inside. Looking at the fire loads, I could see it was a bad situation. A team had already pulled one guy out of the building, someone I knew very well. We were sent to the rear to try to make an attempt to rescue the second firefighter.

When we’d gone roughly 35 or 40 feet into the building, the fire chief called me on the radio. She told me she was pulling us out, which meant leaving a firefighter on the ground. That is a very painful decision. Typically, I’d have said: “Give me a few more minutes, we’re close.” But I recognized in her voice that there was no option. We retreated, and I announced we were out. Nineteen seconds later, the building collapsed, exactly at the place where we’d been when she ordered us out. The decision had saved the lives and changed the lives of four people.

Had I just run in there, I would’ve missed the things I needed to see that day: where the smoke was coming from, where the structural integrity was lost, the color of the smoke. I can still see them now. That’s what allowed me to say: She’s right. We’ve got to leave. So those were two lessons for me in leadership. They were tragic. However, they also made me who I am as a chief officer and, I think, husband and father.

Do you see the Drucker Playbook playing a role in the La Vergne Fire Department?
It will in some capacity, whether they know it or not! I really believe that the Drucker Playbook has had an impact on me as a manager and as a leader. I hope it will have an impact on this organization that I’m working for now. And I know that for the people who participated in Memphis, the Playbook will have an impact on their career, on the people they lead and the community they serve.

Illlustrations by Emilie Hahn

Nobody knows exactly who coined the term “social innovation,” but it is quite clear who was among the first to discuss its importance in addressing the myriad challenges of the world: Peter Drucker.

“We need social innovation,” Drucker wrote in his 1959 book, Landmarks of Tomorrow, “more than we need technological innovation.”

Today, of course, the concept of social innovation is so widely understood that the Stanford Social Innovation Review is published without people wondering what sorts of articles they’ll find on its pages. The Social Innovation Research Center, the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation at the University of Southern California and the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation do their work without having to explain their name.

In the time between Drucker’s original ruminations and the emergence of today’s social innovation movement, much has evolved. Originally, the social innovations of which Drucker wrote were all products of government or business: the Marshall Plan, commercial insurance and myriad other breakthroughs. Now, a third arena has come to play a leading role—namely, the social sector.

Drucker was ahead of his time here, as well, concentrating on the need for effective nonprofit management when few others were paying attention. “Nonprofit institutions need innovation as much as businesses or governments,” he wrote. “And we know how to do it.”

To Drucker, a crucial ingredient in fostering innovation—the thing that’s new—is to stop doing those things that have become obsolete.

“To call abandonment an ‘opportunity’ may come as a surprise,” Drucker wrote. “Yet planned, purposeful abandonment of the old and of the unrewarding is a prerequisite to successful pursuit of the new and highly promising. Above all, abandonment is the key to innovation—both because it frees the necessary resources and because it stimulates the search for the new that will replace the old.”

That is why our long-standing program for nonprofit leaders, the $100,000 Drucker Prize, asked social sector leaders to learn about planned abandonment as a part of the application process.

It is also why we have decided to sunset the Drucker Prize and replace it with something that, we believe, will have an even greater impact.

Next year, we will launch a new program called Spring Cleaning in conjunction with the Metro United Way of Louisville, Kentucky, which serves more than 100 nonprofit organizations. Participants will go through a one-day workshop on planned abandonment. We hope to eventually scale Spring Cleaning to other United Way chapters across the country.

Before we do that, however, we want to pay tribute to the dozens of remarkable organizations whose contributions to social innovation earned them the Drucker Prize. Awarded for each of the past 29 years, it recognized the nonprofit that our judges determined best met Peter Drucker’s definition of innovation: “change that creates a new dimension of performance.”

29 Years of Drucker Prize Winners

2019

LIMBS International

2018

myAgro

2017

We Care Solar

2016

ImproveCareNow Network

2015

Kids v Cancer

2014

HopeLab

2013

Project RED,
Boston Medical Center

2012

I AM A STAR, American Refugee Committee

2011

Direct Relief International

2011–2019

LIMBS International

2019

myAgro

2018

We Care Solar

2017

ImproveCareNow Network

2016

Kids v Cancer

2015

HopeLab

2014

Project RED,
Boston Medical Center

2013

I AM A STAR, American Refugee Committee

2012

Direct Relief International

2011

2010

Safe Families for Children,
Lydia Home Association

2009

Center for Court Innovation

2008

KickStart International

2007

Brooklyn Workforce Innovations

2006

United Through Reading

2005

The Landscape Bank, Keep Alachua County Beautiful

2004

Wheel Get There, Minnesota Valley
Action Council

2003

River Falls First Responders

2002

Crafts with Conviction, Crayons
to Computers

2001

The Eloy Model, Florence Immigrant
& Refugee Rights Project

2001–2010

LIMBS International


2019

myAgro


2018

We Care Solar


2017

ImproveCareNow Network


2016

Kids v Cancer


2015

HopeLab


2014

Project RED,
Boston Medical Center


2013

I AM A STAR, American Refugee Committee


2012

Direct Relief International


2011

2000

Peer Educator Training Program,
SAGE Project

1999

California Transportation Training Institute,
California Emergency Foodlink

1998

Times Square Jobs Training Program,
Common Ground Community

1997

Computer Clubhouse, The
Computer Museum

1996

Second Family Program, Lutheran Social
Services of Illinois

1995

ECO-O.K. Banana Project,
Rainforest Alliance

1994

Community Schools, Children’s
Aid Society

1993

Project Teamwork, Center for Study
of Sport in Society

1992

Parish Partnership Transitional Housing
Program, Lutheran Family
and Children’s Services of Missouri

1991

Living in Family Environments,
Judson Center

1991–2000

LIMBS International


2019

myAgro


2018

We Care Solar


2017

ImproveCareNow Network


2016

Kids v Cancer


2015

HopeLab


2014

Project RED,
Boston Medical Center


2013

I AM A STAR, American Refugee Committee


2012

Direct Relief International


2011

Mission & Strategy

MISSION

Strengthen organizations to strengthen society.

STRATEGY

Offer frameworks for effectiveness, grounded in Peter Drucker’s humanistic values, and equip organizations to put them into practice.

WINNING ASPIRATION

Be recognized as an essential part of movements for positive social impact.

In the long term, we also aspire to extend the worldwide reach and impact of Peter Drucker’s values.

The diagram above depicts how we combine our mission, strategy, where-to-play/how-to-win pairing, and strategic choices into a management system.

The Drucker Institute develops programs according to the Drucker dictum to “start small” but “aim at leadership.” We begin in the lower left, incubating new programs as direct services designed and delivered for a focused segment of customers. This ensures that our programs develop in immediate contact with, and response to, real customers and their needs.

Over a 3–5 year span, we test whether programs that succeed in the lower left can continue to produce results while we offer them increasingly as tools and decreasingly as direct service, and while we make them available to more customer segments.

Though our goal is to make each program effective and sustainable in the upper right, each always requires a mechanism in the upper left for organizational learning. In some cases this mechanism is a discrete activity, such as our company rankings consulting. In other cases it is woven into the overall program, such as localization for each Bendable city. Whatever the mechanism, our work in the upper left quadrant keeps us in close contact with the organizations that use our tools, and helps us continue innovating to meet our customers’ needs.

Drucker Institute By the Numbers

(With apologies to Harper’s Index)

LIFELONG LEARNING

Percentage of jobs requiring at least some education or training beyond high school: 67
Percentage of adults in South Bend, Indiana, who have a degree or industry-recognized credential beyond high school: 40
Number of offerings on Bendable to make progress toward a degree or obtain an industry-recognized credential: 126
Total number of courses and other learning resources on Bendable: 1,552
Unique local visitors to the Bendable digital platform in the first three months: 7,636
Bendable users who’ve accessed learning resources on a partner site in the first three months: 1,015
Number of South Bend companies, government agencies, public school classrooms and nonprofit groups that have integrated Bendable into their programming and activities: 15
Ratio by which adults in the U.S. regularly go to the library compared with the movies: 2 to 1
Cost of a movie ticket at the AMC South Bend 16 theater: $7.49
Cost of Bendable to a learner with a library card: $0

STAKEHOLDER CAPITALISM

Years that the Drucker Institute has focused on combating shareholder primacy and promoting a stakeholder model: 7
Years since America’s leading CEOs have revised their stance to say that serving all stakeholders is their aim: 1
Number of major articles in The Wall Street Journal highlighting the Drucker Institute’s stakeholder-based company ranking system: 26
Number of times that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has tweeted about his company’s No. 1 overall position in the rankings: 1
Likelihood that an S&P 500 company, as compared with those in the top 100 of the Drucker rankings, laid off or furloughed workers through the first 3½ months of the COVID-19 pandemic: 2 to 1
The premium you would have made, as of Sept. 30, 2020, had you invested $100,000 in the S&P/Drucker Institute Corporate Effectiveness Index at its inception instead of the S&P 500: $4,630
Number of copies of Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive you could have purchased with the extra dough: 386

REINVENTING GOVERNMENT

Percentage of city leaders who say that their municipality excels at using performance metrics to evaluate and inform decisions: 17
Percentage of Drucker Playbook for the Public Sector participants who learn the importance of effectively using performance metrics to evaluate and inform decisions: 100
Miles between the most spread out users of the Drucker Playbook in the United States—the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., and the city of Sequim, Washington: 2,863
Total number of “rising leaders” who have been through Drucker Playbook training: 700
Percentage of Drucker Playbook survey respondents indicating that the lessons learned will, over time, make them more effective leaders: 90

SOCIAL INNOVATION

Percentage of nonprofit leaders who say that innovation is an urgent imperative: 80
Percentage of these leaders who say their organization is set up to meet the imperative: 40
Number of chapters in Managing the Nonprofit Organization in which Peter Drucker stresses the need for “organized abandonment,” as a catalyst for innovation: 3
Year that nonprofit organizations that are part of Metro United Way in Louisville, Kentucky, will have a chance to spur innovation by taking part in the debut of the Drucker Institute’s Spring Cleaning program of organized abandonment: 2021
Number of people served each year by these United Way organizations: 1,000,000

THE WHOLE SHEBANG

Members of the Drucker Institute team making all of the above happen: 13

Sources: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce; Lumina Foundation; U.S. Census Bureau; City of South Bend; Gallup; Business Roundtable; S&P Dow Jones Indices; MyLogIQ; Governing and Living Cities; Bridgespan Group and Rockefeller Foundation, Metro United Way. All Bendable data is as of Sept. 30, 2020.