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Marketing in Crisis

Management Revised Edition    Management Cases Revised Edition

Amazon Links: Management Rev Ed and Management Cases, Revised Edition

See contents of Management, Revised Edition and Management Cases, Revised Edition

Amazon Link: Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices

See marketing and innovation overviews

In a 4.17.06 article Jack Trout offered his observations on the situation in which many big brands and chief marketing officers find themselves.

He began the article with an idea he said Peter Drucker wrote: "since the purpose of business is to generate customers, only two functions do this: marketing and innovation. All other business functions are expenses. That said, one could argue that this advice is being ignored as marketing appears to not be getting the kind of attention it deserves."

More from the article: "The average tenure of chief marketing officers is less than 23 months. (That's a quicker turnover than NFL coaches.) Then there's the phenomenon of some of America's big brands being in big trouble. Some have disappeared; some are in financial difficulty; and some are watching their competitors eat their lunch—or, shall we say, market share. Why are some brands losing their long-lived integrity? Where has marketing gone wrong in guiding these businesses? General Motors, Sears, Kodak and AT&T are shells of what they once were.

There are many reasons for this state of affairs. For openers, there is a level of competition that is mind-boggling. The last time I counted, there were 180 brands of dog food. A simple product like water had 50 brands. Got a cough or cold? You have 134 brands of medicine to choose from. This introduces what I call the tyranny of choice. If you make a mistake, your customers simply move on to any of a number of other options. In other words, if you make a mistake, your competitor quickly gets your business—and you never get it back.

Then there's Wall Street with its relentless pressure on companies to keep growing, despite the fact that there is no need—only a desire—to continually expand. This leads to endless line-extensions that tinker with and chase business in categories already populated by other, well-established companies. This often results in categories becoming more and more commoditized, which in turn leads to selling on price rather than on a point of difference. This is not a happy place to reside, as all your competitors have pencils they can easily employ to mark things down. Finally, there is onrushing technology that can make you either obsolete or quickly threatened. If you're not on top of the technology in your category, trust me, someone else out there is trying to nail you. You have to be willing to attack yourself with a better idea and not let your competitor do it for you."

Peter Drucker on basic business functions

The narrow view of functions expressed above is a misrepresentation or misunderstanding of what I think Peter Drucker was trying to convey. This misunderstanding can be found in a number of discussions attempting to promote marketing activities. The result of which is an economy wide misdirection of energy and resources and the attendant side-effects on capital formation, underemployment, employee mega-stress, over-priced consumer offerings and anything else that is the result of a misdirected mega-system where the prime actors misunderstand the functioning of the system.

In chapter 6 of Peter Drucker's Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, (What is a Business?), he wrote: "Because its purpose is to create (not generate) a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only these two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are "costs." He is using the term "function" to refer to special purposes not functional activities—the function of a light switch is to turn lights on or off. (Drucker sometimes uses the word "function" to apply to parts of an organization but not in this case.) Moreover this quotation is taken out of context when quoters fail to mention that it appeared in an analysis of "What is a business?" that is part of a six chapter exploration of business performance that is part of a discussion of the tasks and dimensions (chapter 4 below) of management. See the table of contents to view the entire scope of book.

Chapter 6 (which contains the actual quote) also explores:

"Business Created and Managed by People, Not by Forces; The Fallacy of Profit Maximization; Profit: An Objective Condition of Economic Activity, Not Its Rationale; The Purpose of a Business: To Create a Customer; The Two Entrepreneurial Functions: Marketing and Innovation; The Marketing Revolution in America, Europe, and Japan; Marketing Not a Specialized ActivityIBM as an Example; Consumerism, the "Shame of Marketing"; From Selling to Marketing; The Enterprise as the Organ of Economic Growth and Development; Innovation as an Economic Function; as a Dimension of the Total Business; The Productive Utilization of All Wealth-Producing Resources; What Is Productive Labor?; Knowledge, Time, Product-Mix, Process Mix, and Organization Structure as Factors in Productivity; Making Knowledge Productive; The Functions of Profit; Profit as a Social Responsibility; How Much Profit Is Required?; Business Management a Rational Activity"

Chapter 6 concludes with the following:

"What then is managing the business? It follows from the analysis of business activity as the creation of a customer through marketing and innovation that managing a business must always be entrepreneurial in character. There is need for administrative performance. But it follows the entrepreneurial objectives. Structure follows strategy.

It also follows that managing a business must be a creative rather than a adaptive task. The more a management creates economic conditions or changes them rather than passively adapts to them, the more it manages the business.

But an analysis of the nature of a business also shows that management, while ultimately tested by performance alone, is a rational activity. Concretely this means that a business must set objectives that express what is desirable of attainment rather than (as the maximization-of-profit theorem implies) aim at accommodation to the possible. Once objectives have been set by fixing one's sights on the desirable, the question can be raised what concessions to the possible have to be made. This requires management to decide what business the enterprise is engaged in, and what business it should be engaged in."

Chapter 4 on the Dimensions of Management contains:

"Management Is an Organ—It Exists Only in Contemplation of Performance—The Three Primary Tasks: Economic Performance; Making Work Productive and the Worker Achieving; Managing Social Impacts and Social Responsibilities—The Time Dimensions—Administration and Entrepreneurship—Efficiency and Effectiveness—Optimization and Innovation—The Specific Work of Management: Managing Managers—Focus on Tasks"

Chapter 4 begins:

"Business enterprises—and public-service institutions as well—are organs of society. They do not exist for their own sake, but to fulfill a specific social purpose and to satisfy a specific need of society, community, or individual. They are not ends in themselves, but means. The right question to ask in respect to them is not, What are they? but, What are they supposed to be doing and what are their tasks?

Management, in turn, is the organ of the institution. It has no function in itself, indeed, no existence in itself. Management divorced from the institution it serves is not management.

What people mean by bureaucracy, and rightly condemn, is a management that has come to misconceive itself as an end and the institution as a means. This is the degenerative disease to which managements are prone, and especially those managements that do not stand under the discipline of the market test. To prevent this disease, to arrest it, and, if possible, to cure it, must be a first purpose of any effective manager—but also of an effective book on management.

The question, What is management? comes second. First we have to define management in and through its tasks."

Chapter 7, "Business Purpose and Business Mission" moves from discussing business in general (chapter 6) to individual organizations. The chapter includes:

The Theory of the Business; The Fallacy of the Unternehmer; Why a Theory of the Business Is Needed; Especially in Today's Knowledge Organization; "What Is Our Business?" Neither Simple nor Obvious; Theodore Vail and the Telephone Company; Top Management's First Responsibility; Failure to Define Business Purpose and Business Mission a Major Cause of Business Frustration and Business Failure; Why "What Is Our Business?" Is So Rarely Asked; The Need for Dissent; The Customer Defines the Business; Who Is Our Customer?; Customer and Consumer ; The Carpet-Industry Story; Where Is the Customer?; What Does He Buy?; What Is Value to the Customer?; There Are No Irrational Customers; The Economist's Concept of Value; What Is Price?; When to Ask, "What Is Our Business?"; Most Important: When a Business Is Successful ; "What Will Our Business Be?"; The Importance of Population Trends ; Changes in Economy, Fashion, and Competition; Anticipating Innovation; The Consumer's Unsatisfied Wants; "What Should Our Business Be?"; The Need for Planned Abandonment

Chapter 7 concludes with the following:

Defining the purpose and mission of the business is difficult, painful, and risky. But it alone enables a business to set objectives, to develop strategies, to concentrate its resources and to go to work. It alone enables a business to be managed for performance.

The foregoing paragraphs are the supra-context within which the initial quote is contained. Without awareness and acceptance of this supra-context the quote misdirects and misleads. It is also part of the explanation of "marketing in crisis."

The quoted material above was written before 1975 and it is not the end or sum of Peter Drucker's written thinking or his mentorship. One of the evolutionary challenges facing all of us is making the transition from the worldS he saw then to the worldS he foresaw in the next society (Management Challenges for the Twenty-First Century and Managing in the Next Society). My about Peter Drucker page is a resource for working on that challenge.

As further clarification, Peter Drucker pointed out that most organizations do too much (too many activities) and too little (they do things half-heartedly) plus they don't systematically practice abandonment.

From management boom to management performance

The emergence of management in this century may have been a pivotal event of history. It signaled a major transformation of society into a pluralist society of institutions, of which managements are the effective organs. Management, after more than a century of development as a practice and as a discipline, burst into public consciousness in the management boom that began after World War II and lasted through the 1960s. What has the boom accomplished? What have we learned? And what are the new knowledges we need, the new challenges we face, the new tasks ahead, now that the management boom is over?

The tasks (of management)

Management is an organ of an institution; and the institution, whether a business or a public service, is in turn an organ of society, existing to make specific contributions and to discharge specific social functions. Management, therefore, cannot be defined or understood—let alone practiced—except in terms of its performance dimensions and of the demands of performance on it. The tasks of management are the reason for its existence, the determinants of its work, and the grounds of its authority and legitimacy.

Business performance

We do not yet have a genuine theory of business and no integrated discipline of business management. But we know what a business is and what its key functions are. We understand the functions of profit and the requirements of productivity. Any business needs to think through the question: What is our business and what should it be? From the definition of its mission and purpose a business must derive objectives in a number of key areas; it must balance these objectives against each other and against the competing demands of today and tomorrow. It needs to convert objectives into concrete strategies and to concentrate resources on them. Finally, it needs to think through its strategic planning, i.e., the decisions of today that will make the business of tomorrow.

What is a business?

"Asked what a business is, the typical businessman is likely to answer, "An organization to make a profit." The typical economist is likely to give the same answer. This answer is not only false, it is irrelevant" …

"Profit and profitability are, however, crucial—for society even more than for the individual business—see economic system view. Yet profitability is not the purpose of but a limiting factor on business enterprise and business activity. Profit is not the explanation, cause, or rationale of business behavior and business decisions, but the test of their validity" …

"To know what a business is we have to start with its purpose. Its purpose must lie outside of the business itself. In fact, it must lie in society since business enterprise is an organ of society. There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer

Markets are not created by God, nature, or economic forces but by businessmen (business people). The want a business satisfies may have been felt by the customer before he was offered the means of satisfying it. Like food in a famine, it may have dominated the customer's life and filled all his waking moments, but it remained a potential want until the action of businessmen (business person) converted it into effective demand. Only then is there a customer and a market. The want may have been unfelt by the potential customer; no one knew that he wanted a Xerox machine or a computer until these became available. There may have been no want at all until business action created it—by innovation, by credit, by advertising, or by salesmanship. In every case, it is business action that creates the customer.

It is the customer who determines what a business is. It is the customer alone whose willingness to pay for a good or for a service converts economic resources into wealth, things into goods. What the business thinks it produces is not of first importance—especially not to the future of the business and to its success. The typical engineering definition of quality is something that is hard to do, is complicated, and costs a lot of money! But that isn't quality; it's incompetence. What the customer thinks he's buying, what he considers value is decisive—it determines what a business is, what it produces, and whether it will prosper. And what the customer buys and considers value is never a product. It is always utility, that is, what a product or service does for him. And what is value for the customer is, as we shall see (in Chapter 7), anything but obvious."

Value—in this sense—is not something sellers can claim their products or services offer—it has to do with the customer's internal mental value system and is related to the customer's evolving mental patterns.

Innovation: In the organization of the business enterprise, innovation can no more be considered a separate function than marketing. It is not confined to engineering or research but extends across all parts of the business, all functions, all activities. It cannot be confined to manufacturing. Innovation in distribution has been as important as innovation in manufacturing; and so has been innovation in an insurance company or in a bank. Innovation can be defined as the task of endowing human and material resources with new and greater wealth-producing capacity.

See Management—Revised Edition

See Marketing Moves :: Preface ::: Economic environment

See Tables of Contents for more marketing titles

What's the individual to do?

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Innovation topic page. Tidbits about innovation. Entrepreneurship defined. The Entrepreneurial Business

Entrepreneurship topic page—a placeholder

Innovation and Entrepreneurship book outline with an exploration of Systematic Entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurs and Innovation Peter Drucker interview conducted by George Gendron, editor in chief of Inc. magazine

Council on Competitiveness Urges National Innovation Ecosystem to Lead Next Wave of U.S. Economic Growth

Management, Revised Edition contains several innovation and entrepreneurship topics

Peter Drucker book list: Toward tomorrows, comprehensive management and time related

What and how to calendarize—the real mental challenge


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving toward unimagined futures.

It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then figure out a coping plan for what you’ve rejected.

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