Peter Drucker

The Peter Drucker Diary – Entry 5

The work of a genius or giant often presents an anomaly. Reverential regard obscures the real work. People know the name, but haven’t engaged with the work. In this series, we take one Peter Drucker quote or excerpt and seek to understand it. Entry 5 “Expect the job to provide stimulus only if you work on your own self-renewal, only if you create the excitement, the challenge, the transformation that makes an old job enriching over and over again”  A job, especially in the context of an organisation, is in place for producing consistent results as demanded by the nature of the task or the wish of the customer. This creates routine. Any routine becomes mindless after some point of time. People go through the motions and deliver the minimum acceptable results that bear the stamp of consistency. For the organisation, most such results are low-stakes and deemed acceptable; and so, everybody plays their part in the drift downwards towards mediocrity. Peter Drucker puts the onus for a positive handling of the situation on the job-holder. Do not expect the…

The Peter Drucker Diary – Entry 4

The work of a genius or giant often presents an anomaly. Reverential regard obscures the real work. People know the name, but haven’t engaged with the work. In this series, we take one Peter Drucker quote or excerpt and seek to understand it. Entry 4 “Knowledge does not eliminate skill. On the contrary, knowledge is fast becoming the foundation of skill”                Knowledge and Skill get melded together in real life. Yet, when people reflect on both of them, they often make the error of looking at them in isolation. Focussing on one without considering the other often proves to be the undoing. Knowledge is ‘how things work’ The best management education provides knowledge, but if the skills of managing are not being practiced at the same time, this education is largely theoretical. Knowledge imparted without considering how it is going to be used ( skill) is like being given a manual without the real object. Management education is also received knowledge, handed down to us over the years. Real knowledge is created in…

The Peter Drucker Diary – Entry 3

The work of a genius or giant often presents an anomaly. Reverential regard obscures the real work. People know the name, but haven’t engaged with the work. In this series, we take one Peter Drucker quote or excerpt and seek to understand it. Entry 3 “Success always obsoletes the very behaviour that achieved it” Think about the courtship period of a couple. There is a notion of ‘cute’ that every man and woman remembers their partner having bestowed on them – during this lovey dovey period. This cuteness makes the heart go bonkers in crazy, stupid love and then..the wedding bells ring!  And then what? The same behaviour now makes your partner come after you with a sledge hammer or Thor’s hammer! You scratch your head and wonder – what’s changed?! The great Henry Ford famously said that the customer can have a Ford car in any colour as long as it is black! Ford was the perfect practitioner of Frederick Taylor’s ‘Scientific management’. His assembly line was the embodiment of maximum efficiency so that production could be scaled up…

Organizing Ignorance

Not ignorance, but ignorance of ignorance is the death of knowledge. – Alfred North Whitehead Indeed, Peter Drucker used to emphasize that what matters more is not how much you know, but how aware you are of what you do not know. He used to say that we should organize our ignorance. Organising helps us become aware of the structure of our knowledge and understanding and the limits thereof. For example. All of our knowledge of AI and robotics and it’s potential impact is important. What is it that we do not know and are perhaps not even aware of?! What we do not know or not strongly aware of is our own self-conception of being human and how intimately our ‘self-efficacy’ as a species is tied up with technology. We are ignorant about how profoundly AI and robotics is going to interrogate the meaning of being human. The more we explore and organize ignorance, the more we make visible the dark space within which the Knowledge Universe exists.

The Peter Drucker Diary – Entry 2

The work of a genius or giant often presents an anomaly. Reverential regard obscures the real work. People know the name, but haven’t engaged with the work. In this series, we take one Peter Drucker quote or excerpt and seek to understand it. Entry 2 “What Everybody knows is frequently wrong” Just like Entry 1, this assertion seems to be straightforward. And yet, while we may find inscrutable sense in it, our behaviour and actions follow what everybody knows. Everybody knows ….. (whatever you want to put in here) and whatever you fill this with, Peter Drucker says, it is likely to be based on beliefs and assumptions that are untenable. Peter Drucker urges us to go beyond the surface, uncover the beliefs and assumptions, and hold them against the shining light of here-and-now reality. Everybody knows the Emergency Room in a hospital is to save lives in an SOS situation. Everybody knows the crucial promotion is the final one to the top position. Everybody knows immediate and unanimous agreement in a meeting on a topic is a harbinger of unity and…

The Peter Drucker Diary – Entry 1

A genius or giant brings a big handicap. Reverential regard obscures the real work. In this series, we take one Peter Drucker quote or excerpt and seek to understand it. Entry 1 “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done” On the face of it, this is an almost plebeian observation. We have all got fed up with bureaucratic procedures or red-tape and railed against how complex and convoluted the whole damn thing is. However that’s just the easier surface-level reality that this Drucker quote speaks to. In the name of improving productivity, incentives are created that make people stop contributing elsewhere. In the name of appraising performance, people spend more time logging in sundry details. In the name of engaging people, team members search for good things to say to each other in public and struggle. Incentives skew the direction of effort and the allocation of time. Before incentives, I had time to help my colleague structure a work-proposal. After incentives, I want to maximise what I can earn. Teamwork…

Peter Drucker – Why does Emergency Room in a hospital exist? Brilliant!

Can anybody tell doctors what a hospital’s emergency room is for? Of course, not. Turns out Peter Drucker did. A legend in his lifetime, Drucker was once consulted by a hospital. They wanted him to help the Emergency Room (ER) of a hospital become more effective. Drucker started where he always does – mission. A mission statement answers the question – Why do we exist? Drucker asked the stakeholders in ER, “What is your mission?” At this point, put yourself in the shoes of the stakeholder. When I do, I answer, “The mission of ER is to save the life of everybody who is brought in” That is why it exists. Isn’t that true? People are wheeled into the place because it is, as the name suggests, an emergency! A life is at stake. We must save the life of this person. For Drucker, my answer won’t cut it. To him, the mission had to be so clear that it spells out in operational terms what to do next to achieve it. And that is his real genius! If we go by…

Thoughts on the TATA Group challenge

As a teenager, 23 years ago, I remember being struck by something unsual in the newspapers one day. All of them were carrying one single news story on their front page. It was the obituary of JRD Tata. And on the rest of the page, there were vignettes or anecdotes from JRD’s life. Usually, political icons got such coverage. Why such a coverage for an industrialist then, I asked myself.  As I read and devoured everything in multiple papers and magazines, I got my answer. JRD was so much more than an industrialist & a business leader. JRD showed how much a business can contribute to a nation and society if it is driven by values & enlightened leadership. In your teens, you are moved more by ideas of justice and equality than by those of making money. To know that a business can reconcile such values & make money was a revelation to me. Reading about JRD made such a huge impact then. As I read about what is happening at the TATA group now, I am not dismayed…

How to be an Employee : Peter Drucker’s classic career advice

Being an employee is an art, says Drucker.  And he says getting fired from your first job may be a good thing! Isn’t that interesting? Peter Drucker wrote on this topic almost forty years back. The Basic Skill  He starts off by asking, ” What can you learn that will help you in being an employee?” The answer, unsurprisingly, is communication. Drucker calls it a basic skill which very few students bother to learn. This one basic skill is the ability to organize and express ideas in writing and in speaking. For Drucker, an early start is beneficial. ” The foundations for skill in expression have to be laid early : an interest in and an ear for language; experience in organizing ideas and data; in brushing aside the irrelevant; in wedding outward form and inner content into one structure; and above all, the habit of verbal expression. If you do not lay these foundations during your school years, you may never have an opportunity again. You should take courses in the writing of poetry and the writing of short stories. Most…

A Drucker quote & the fun a Devil’s advocate has with it!

Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and under-performance. Everything else requires leadership – Peter Drucker. Here is what the Devil will say! Employee engagement is the oil for easing the friction without removing the cause. Organizational charts are the boxes where confusion is stuffed in. Business analysis is the drainage system for under-performance. Leadership is the art of juggling boxes with oily hands & draining away the tell-tale signs!