From my perspective, his name has appeared in almost every management text book (about 25) I studied during my BCommerce. I even bought 1 of his books from a bookstore once purely because I recognised his name and just knew the sales price was a bargain!
I really hope some truly controversial "new ideas" person starts challenging the status quo once more - it seems like there is a great deal of regurgitation of management thought process going on.
4 Ideas I took away from quotations of his that gave me much to think about:
1. During the early 80's he argued that CEO compensation should not be more than 20 times what the bottom earner in the company was earning.
Imagine what the world would be like if this thought had held...just imagine... all the people ... living for today ... living in peace ... sharing all the world. *sigh*
2. The most useless thing to do, is do something that should not be done at all, efficiently.
Efficiency takes time and money - it costs A LOT! The absolute waste that goes into doing something that should not be done at all, and then making the process more efficient - awful! I guess this is one of my influencers for always trying to find the fundamentals of what I am doing and why.
3. "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."
Actually this quotation has been driven home repeatedly throughout my limited exposure. I am unsure if my current thoughts are more influenced by study or by experience: There are a huge number of managers (title) without leadership skills, and there are a huge number of leaders (personality) without management skills. When you find yourself in the rare (in my humble opinion) circumstance that there are layers of management with leadership skills all around you, magic is very likely to occur, not only during times of crisis, but also during times inbetween.
4. "The best way to predict the future is to create it."
Strange that one of Peter Drucker's core concepts was Management By Objectives (MBO). Or perhaps it is once again a case of Best Practice being formulated and applied without customisation to the circumstance/environment, and without empowering people to do the right thing as they are being measured on the wrong thing. Regardless - about this quotation - imagine a company culture where everyone is an opportunity seeker. When combined with radical and forward looking MBO, things get interesting, but most companies seem to base current MBO plans on past experience/objectives/successes/failures which is all data driven decision making and does not allow for much innovation and active workforce participation.
Like all people who get used as sources of education and inspiration he had/has many proponents and many opponents. You can read more briefly about him on Wikipedia - Peter Drucker and on the Drucker Institute which houses many interesting articles.
Anyway - I hope you read the CIO "taster" article and perhaps some of the ideas spark your further interest! (let me know if they do!)
As for book recommendations - I can't find the 1st/2nd year text I purchased years ago, but I did look around and find these good looking "professional" sources that I will be buying in the near future: