Archivist’s Pick: Peter Drucker, Girl Scout

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.

In 1990, as General Motors was struggling, Peter Drucker suggested that he had the perfect candidate to take the reins from Roger Smith, then CEO of the troubled automaker. “I would pick Frances Hesselbein,” Drucker said. He later added that Hesselbein “could manage any company in America.”

The curious thing to many about Drucker’s remark was that, at the time, Hesselbein was head of the Girl Scouts of the USA. What Drucker knew, of course, is that great management is great management, period. It matters not whether the organization at hand is a business, nonprofit or government agency.

Drucker’s admiration for the Girl Scouts and its leadership was reflected, in turn, by the Girl Scouts’ deep respect for him and his work. In the first photograph below, we see Drucker at his 1983 induction as a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts, an honor marked by the presentation of his very own sash.

Peter Drucker receives his Girl Scouts membership pin.
Peter Drucker’s Girl Scouts certificate and sash. Photo by Anne Fishbein from Drucker: A Life in Pictures