Quite Obviously, Peter Drucker Advised Dunder Mifflin

This week, NBC’s “The Office” came to an end. Many television shows have used the workplace as a setting, but none before “The Office” had made the workplace, with its petty intrigues and awkward moments, the star.

We think Peter Drucker would have found “The Office” amusing (had he owned a TV, that is). But the question we pose now is whether the lead character, Michael Scott, the office boss played by Steve Carell, secretly turned to Drucker for inspiration. (Although Carell departed the show two seasons ago, he is still considered by most fans to have been the heart of the show.)

Peter F. Drucker
Peter F. Drucker

Here we offer the original wisdom of Peter Drucker and, courtesy of the website IGN, some of the more memorable lines Drucker seems to have inspired in Michael Scott.

1. On Technology

Peter Drucker: “The popular belief that the new technology will replace human labor by robots is utterly false. ‘I was in charge of an analog computer for some time,’ one of my students told me. ‘I am still appalled by the number of business men who believed that the machine was in charge of me.’” (The Practice of Management)

Michael Scott“People will never be replaced by machines. In the end, life and business are about human connections. And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake. And to me the choice is easy.”

2. On the Psychology of Compensation

Peter Drucker: “Pay, as we have just seen, becomes part of the social or psychological dimension rather than the economic one. . . . At the least, [workers with increased status] want perquisites.” (Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices)

Michael Scott: “A boss’s salary isn’t just about money. It is about perks. For example, every year I get a one hundred dollar gas card. Can’t put a price tag on that.”

3. On Sensitivity to Foreign Cultures

Peter Drucker: “The American people . . . often fail to understand the behavior of foreign, especially of European, nations.” (Concept of the Corporation)

Michael Scott: “Did you know that in Morocco it is common to exchange a small gift when meeting somebody for the first time? In Japan, you must always commit suicide to avoid embarrassment. In Italy you must always wash your hands after going to the bathroom. This is considered to be polite.”

4. On Winners and Losers

Peter Drucker: “Losers always learn one thing, and that to perfection: resistance against being driven.” (Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices)

Michael Scott: “I absorb information from the strategies of the winners and the losers. Actually, I probably learn more from the losers.”

5. On the Need of a Boss to Be Liked

Peter Drucker: “In every successful organization there is one boss who does not like people, who does not help them and does not get along with them. Cold, unpleasant, demanding, he often teaches and develops more men than anyone else. He commands more respect than the most likable man ever could.” (Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices)

Michael Scott: “Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. . . . But it’s not like a compulsive need to be liked. Like my need to be praised.”

What television show do you think has the most to teach us about office life, and what have you learned from it?