Archivist’s Pick: On Asking the Right Questions

Here’s this month’s piece from the Drucker Institute’s archivist, Bridget Lawlor. By drawing lessons from the vast treasure trove of papers and other objects that are collected in Peter Drucker’s archives, Bridget is giving new life to decades-old material.

This 1999 thank-you note from former Citibank CEO Walter Wriston to Peter Drucker highlights one of Drucker’s most valuable contributions as a consultant: asking great questions, rather than trying to serve up answers.

“The time we spent together at Citibank were some of our most productive periods,” Wriston recalls. “You always asked the right question that illuminated the issues we should have been thinking about but weren’t!”

Drucker surely would have been pleased by such praise. “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions,” he once remarked. “I can only ask questions. The answers have to be yours.”

Courtesy of the Drucker Archives/CCDL
Courtesy of the Drucker Archives/CCDL