What Peter Drucker Taught Me about Business

By Todd Nelson
Senior Vice President, Business Banking

One reason business owners choose to work with community banks like North American Banking Company is that our commercial lenders (like me) work with business owners as more than just bankers looking to provide a cookie cutter loan. We work with our customers as advisors and coaches along the way, putting our experience and business knowledge to work for you.

Earlier in my career, I was in the MBA program at Claremont Graduate School in Los Angeles where Peter Drucker, “the Father of Management”, was one of my professors. Besides being a well-known professor, Drucker was probably the world’s foremost management consultant, counseling large organizations world-wide, including General Motors, General Electric, ServiceMaster, the Girl Scouts, and many Japanese companies.

A business’ purpose, Drucker maintained, is not profit maximization or even creating a profit (a residual of doing the right things) but that “there is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.” He keenly emphasized marketing and innovation as the keys to driving revenue (and, ultimately, profit).

Drucker also asked probing questions of his clients to help them improve and to better understand their businesses. As an experienced banker who cares about my customers and their continued success, I try to do the same.

Drucker’s curiosity (he called it ignorance) and his asking the right questions were key to helping his clients. He asked five questions of senior management:

  1. What is our mission?
  2. Who is our customer?
  3. What does the customer value?
  4. What are our results?
  5. What is the plan?

As a business owner, how many of these can you readily answer? If you can’t, that’s ok. I’d be happy to meet with you and work through these questions together, to try to put your business in a position to succeed, just the way Peter Drucker did for me!

You can reach me at 612.455.1112 or tnelson@nabankco.com.

A lifelong music-lover, Todd was principal trumpet in the University of Minnesota’s concert band and has sung in various local choirs. He’s also an automobile enthusiast who enjoys reading, downhill skiing, and spending time with his family, which includes his wife, son, and four daughters.