A wide array of studies of respected institutions, unconnected with the LDS Church, confirms the “fruits of Mormonism” in many areas including the following: Charity, Youth Development, Health, Longevity, Mormon Women’s Political Firsts, Education, Science, Observations of Guru Peter Drucker.

Part 8: Observations of Guru Peter Drucker

At a Harvard seminar on volunteerism in 1989, world-class organization and management guru Peter Drucker told me that “the Mormons are the only Utopia that ever worked.” The word Utopia was invented by Sir Thomas More to describe a mythical ideal island where everyone was educated, wise, mutually helpful and prosperous. Various descriptions of utopian societies have been proposed, and some have been attempted but have failed. (Peter Drucker’s authorization to publish his quote is in the www.fruitsofmormonism.com blog.)

Peter Drucker is widely recognized as the father of modern management and as one of the most astute observers of organizational and managerial effectiveness. He saw management as “the organ that converts a mob into an organization and human effort into performance.” A century after his birth and four years after his death at 96, his life of contributions was richly commemorated in the November 19th, 2009 issue of The Economist, the November 2009 Harvard Business Review, and The Financial Times on 11-23-09.

Of course, people actually living the teachings and commandments of Jesus Christ that were exemplified by his life, which even skeptic Thomas Jefferson saw as marvelous, would represent an ideal society. Peter Drucker taught at Claremont, whose graduate school of management bears his name, and he lived in southern California a heavy Mormon area. Over the years he saw a multitude of effective service, educational and cultural activities that were successfully carried out by the Mormon Church by volunteer efforts since there were no paid clergy. He concluded that this was the closest thing to a Utopian society, an extraordinary example of what can be accomplished when there is a widespread will to sustain unpaid effort to serve other people.

There are approximately 25,000 wards and branches (congregations) in more than 150 countries that are organized into about 3,000 stakes. Wards typically have 400 to 700 members most of whom have at least one assignment in a teaching, youth development, service or administrative position. Even janitorial tasks are performed by rotating volunteers (often people who rank high in their professions). Each ward is presided over by a Bishop who is typically both a spiritual and practical leader, who devotes about 20 hours a week without any financial compensation, for about five years. They work in diverse occupations, ranging from farmers to doctors to lawyers to professors to corporate CEO’s. The Bishops lead the congregation, give prayerful callings to the members and counsel and help members to work their way through problems.

Literally billions of dollars that would have gone to personnel costs are saved and available to expand the growth and mission of the Church more rapidly, such as in assisting the poor, education, the building of chapels (that include recreational and athletic facilities and have been completed in the low hundreds per year), and beautifully landscaped inspiring Temples (Houses of the Lord) that teach the importance of developing all of one’s talents and abilities to serve others of God’s children and striving to live the life exemplified by Christ. More than 136 Temples exist in such diverse locations as Hong Kong, Nigeria and Ukraine with 30 more under construction or planning. Now 85% of all Mormons worldwide are within 200 miles of a Temple with its spiritually enriching ordinances.

At the top of the LDS Church are a small number of full-time positions to which spiritual and talented people are called. Since these positions are filled for the rest of their professional lives, and they do not serve on corporate boards that might distract them from their spiritual callings, they receive a very modest subsistence allowance that does not come from tithing but from business profits.

An example of the service attitude of Church members was that Donald L. Staheli, CEO of Continental Grain, which has been the largest private corporation in the nation with a salary of multiple millions of dollars per year. He was asked to become a member of the Council of Seventy (full time) and resigned his job to do so.

Another example of the willingness to give up many benefits to fill a position affecting thousands of people occurred when Kim Clark, who as the highly successful Dean of the Harvard Business School had made many innovations such as creating foreign campuses, was asked to become President of BYU Idaho, which had earlier been a junior college. (Dr. Clark’s Church service had included being a Bishop and a Scoutmaster. To explain to his eastern friends why he accepted this position, he said it was like receiving a phone call from Moses.) With open admissions, he was to make it a rapidly growing (currently 17,000+ students,) quality, undergraduate university operating with a remarkably low cost per student. Now he is invited to lecture at such places as the Aspen Institute to tell how he accomplished these goals, and what other universities might learn from his approaches and methods.

The Associate Dean of Harvard Business School, Steven C. Wheelwright was asked to become President of BYU Hawaii, which provides university education to students from throughout the Pacific Islands and basin. Some of these students could only earn about $50 per year in their native islands. They receive work scholarships from the Polynesian Cultural Center at BYU-H, which teaches them their native dances and other aspects of culture and history permitting them to perform at the PCC, which is the highest attended paid tourist attraction in Hawaii. At BYU-H, they also learn skills to gain employment in modern economies. Some of them take those skills back to their islands to develop new businesses there.          

It is not surprising that the astute Peter Drucker came to his remarkable conclusion that “Mormons are the only Utopia that ever worked.”

 

Read Part One: How the World Evaluates Mormonism: Charity

Part Two: How the World Evaluates Mormonism: Youth

Part Three: How the World Evaluates Mormonism: Health

Part Four: How the World Evaluates Mormonism: Longevity

Part Five: How the World Evaluates Mormonism: Mormon Women’s Political Firsts

Part Six: How the World Evaluates Mormonism: Education

Part Seven: How the World Evaluates Mormonism: Science

 

Mark W. Cannon has a Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government from Harvard. He has been a Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Staff Director for Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution; Administrative Assistant to Chief Justice Burger (13 years); Director, Institute of Public Administration, New York; Chairman, BYU Political Science Department; Staff, Senator Wallace Bennett; Administrative Asst. Congressman Henry Aldous Dixon