Good corporate managers can help government; they can put their skills to nonprofit use, too.
Although many might question the combination of corporations and the social good, Drucker believed that managers were especially well-positioned to work for the benefit of society.
Why is that?
First, corporations have gargantuan budgets with which they can support social programs. And second, as a company brings together so many knowledge workers under one roof, it can also leverage its vast human capital to solve some of society’s problems.
To that end, Drucker believed that managers should share their skills across society via executive sabbaticals – that is, having managers take time off to work elsewhere.
In fact, it was an executive sabbatical that led a group of managers to help solve California’s public debt crisis in 1967. At the time, California’s budget deficit was so large that it led to a series of forced tax hikes.
Some 200 managers decided to go on sabbatical to help California deal with the crisis. This team identified key areas of government inefficiency, like an unnecessary $4 million development in the state capitol. Eventually, California was able to lower taxes, and even offer tax refunds!
Governments aren’t the only non-corporate sector that’s increasingly eager to attract such leaders. Managerial skills are also now highly sought-after in the nonprofit world.
Nonprofits face a particular business challenge, as they don’t sell a product (as a business does) and aren’t trying to create more effective regulations (as government does). Rather, nonprofits pursue something more abstract: societal change.
Since managers are trained to define clear goals and find ways to measure success, they can use these skills to appraise and legitimize a nonprofit’s more abstract aims.
For example, a manager can clarify a nonprofit’s objective, “helping children read,” and turn it into, “a specified amount of students reaching their age-appropriate reading level.”