The exchange below comes from an interview I conducted recently with Peter Drucker, whose 20 or so books have virtually defined management as we know and practice it today. The complete interview will appear in Inc. 's second annual State of Small Business issue, which will be published two weeks from now. In it, Drucker challenges conventional wisdom about U.S. entrepreneurial superiority, the "professionalization" of today's entrepreneurs, and the perception that entrepreneurship is unique to business. Given the extent to which presidential politics have dominated the news recently, we couldn't resist offering this preview.
An excerpt from an interview with Peter Drucker about the state of entrepreneurship
Inc.: Peter, you've talked about innovation and entrepreneurship in business and in the social sector. What about in government?
Drucker: That's probably our most important challenge. Look, no government in any major developed country really works anymore. The United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan -- none has a government the citizens respect or trust. In every country there is a cry for leadership. But it's the wrong cry. When you have a malfunction across the spectrum, you don't have a people problem, you have a systems problem. Modern government needs innovation. What we have now is roughly 400 years old. The invention of the nation state and of modern government in the closing years of the 16th century was certainly one of the most successful innovations ever. Within 200 years it conquered the globe. But it needs new thinking -- new theory, new pilot experiments, and so on. And the same holds true for the economic theories that have dominated now for at least 60 years. Government -- rather than business or the nonprofits -- is going to be the most important area of entrepreneurship and innovation for the next 20 or 25 years.
Inc.: Do you see any signs of that happening?
Drucker: No one, as far as I can see, is yet asking the right question: What can government do? We still ask the traditional question -- What should government do? -- even though the last 50 years have taught us clearly that it's no longer the right question. But still, there are signs of entrepreneurship and innovation in government.
Inc.: Such as?
Drucker: What the Republicans are trying to do in Congress. It doesn't matter whether I approve or not -- and I have grave doubts -- but the most visible innovator and entrepreneur in this country today is neither in business nor in the social sector. He is in government. It's Newt Gingrich. If I've ever seen a real entrepreneur, he's one.
Inc.: I suppose it depends on one's definition of an entrepreneur.
Drucker: There is only one definition: An entrepreneur is someone who gets something new done.
Inc.: In your view, what is the new thing the Speaker is trying to get done?
Drucker: He's trying to totally change American politics. If he were to succeed -- which is by no means certain -- he will have created what we have never had, not even in the New Deal: a disciplined party in the Congress, and one he controls. And he started with that clear goal 10 or 12 years ago.