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Peter Drucker’s Five Magic Questions

By Andrew Sobel, Big 4 Guest Blogger

The management guru Peter Drucker framed his consulting advice around five critical questions. With the answers to these five questions, you could run and grow your business.

Andrew Sobel

Andrew Sobel

Peter Drucker is considered the leading management thinker of the last century. He wrote 40 books on management, including several when he was in his 90s. He coined or developed many fundamental management concepts (or their precursor ideas) that we take for granted today—the knowledge worker, management by objectives, outsourcing, and many others.

When Drucker wrote about the concept of outsourcing, for example, he focused more on human development and opportunity than cost reduction. He said that if a company had a cafeteria, the employees in that area had little future—after all, how far can you go working in single food service operation? But a company specializing in food service for many different customers could offer all sorts of developmental and career opportunities for its people.


Here are Drucker’s five questions:

1. What is your mission?

2. Who is your customer?

3. What does your customer value?

4. What results do you seek?

5. What is your plan?

Sometimes he would spend an entire day on the first question, challenging the leadership team he was working with to redefine what business they were really in.

Since writing my book Power Questions, which has now been translated into over 10 languages, I have discovered how rich this topic is. Improving the quality of your questions is the most immediate thing you can do to deepen and even transform your relationships—with clients, colleagues, friends, and family.

What questions have you found to be particularly effective in getting behind peoples’ thinking, focusing on the real problems, and connecting with others? Leave a comment, below.


Anyone who buys a copy of my new book, Power Relationships, can download the free 90-page Planning Guide I’ve prepared  at Power Relationships Planning Guide

I help companies and individuals develop winning marketplace strategies and build clients for life. My bestselling books include Power RelationshipsPower QuestionsAll for One, and Clients for Life. I spent 14 years at Gemini Consulting, where I was a Senior Vice President and the Chief Executive of Gemini’s Italian subsidiary. For the last 17 years I’ve headed my own consulting firm, Andrew Sobel Advisors.

I’d like to hear from you. Contact me at

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