am 23. November 2015
In “The Best Business Books Ever” published by “Basic Books” in 2003 and updated in 2011 we find Peter Drucker’s books “The Practice of Management” published in 1954 and “The Age Of Discontinuity – Guidelines to Our Changing Society” published in 1968/1969.
In this review you find a few selected original quotes of Peter Drucker with relevance for today.
My comments are marked MC.
I envy the courage of the seers who tell us what 2000 may look like. But I have no desire to emulate them. I remember too well what the future looked like in 1933. No forecaster could then have imagined our reality of 1968. Nor could anyone, a generation earlier in 1900, have anticipated or forecast the realities of 1933.
All we can ever predict is continuity that extends yesterday’s trends into tomorrow. … But these continuing trends, however important, are only one dimension of the future, only one aspect of reality.
Chapter 2 The New Industries and Their Dynamics
There is no technical reason why someone like Sears Roebuck should not come out tomorrow with an appliance selling for less than a TV set, capable of being plugged in wherever there is electricity, and giving immediate access to all the information needed for schoolwork from first grade through college.
Yet though IBM is now shipping computers at the rate of a thousand a month, we do not have the equivalent of Edison’s light bulb.
MC: Peter Drucker taught us in his book “Managing for Results” published in 1964, to identify “the future that has already happened.” as one platform for innovation compared with “making the future happen.”
The roots of an appliance as described by Peter Drucker in 1969 can be found in in the invention of the transistor in 1947. “A device, called a transistor, which has several applications in radio where a vacuum tube is ordinarily employed, was demonstrated for the first time yesterday at Bell Laboratories…where it was invented.” Thus began a brief story in the 1 July 1948 issue of the New York Times.
Drucker’s expectations were turned into reality by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak with the first Apple Computer (1977), by Bill Gates, Paul Allen and IBM with the IBM Personal Computer (1981), with the appearance of the internet and the worldwide web in 1990/1991, the Mosaic Browser in 1993 (see “Where Wizards Stay Up Late” by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon, published in 1996 and “the soul of the Internet” by Neil Randall published in 1997) and subsequent innovations – 25 years after Drucker’s writing.
Since Drucker’s announcement of the Age of Discontinuity in 1969 we never returned to continuity.
Chapter 3 The New Entrepreneur
Vision, as a rule, comes before action, and understanding comes even later. Thomas Watson, Sr. the man who founded and built IBM, did not live to see the triumph of the computer. But he began to talk forty years earlier about “data processing,” even though no one at that time would have been able to say what the term meant. Everybody today talks of the “megalopolis,” the “super-city,” though no one can define it yet.
MC: today the discussions are about “smart cities”, also not defined yet. However, they are already “under construction.” and IBM is pushing “Watson”, a smart machine – see IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing” by John E. Kelly III and Steve Hamm, published in 2013) also “under construction.”
I have been reading for years the acceptance speeches of Nobel prize winners. Again and again one hears them say, “What started me on the work that led to this achievement was a chance remark by a teacher who said: ‘Why don’t you try something where the results would really make a difference’”? The first question to ask in an innovative organization is: “Is this big enough so that we will have at least a new business, if not a new industry or a new technology if we succeed? If not, we cannot afford the risks.” This is a very different question from the ones asked in the managerial organization when it does “long-range planning” or allocates resources. There one tries to minimize the possible loss. In innovation one has to maximize the possible results.
MC: today many innovations are made by start-ups. Innovation in big companies is driven by mergers and acquisition of start-ups which demonstrates and confirms the importance of new entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.
Chapter 17 Does Knowledge Have A Future?
The business schools in the United States, set up less than a century ago, have been preparing well-trained clerks rather than entrepreneurs.
MC: in the “Harvard Business manager, German edition November 2015”, we find the following headline: “the best CEO worldwide – Harvard Ranking of the best 100 managers: a European outperforms the US-elite”: Lars Reblen Sorensen (no MBA), CEO of Novo Nordisk since 2000, Denmark, followed by John Chambers (MBA), CEO of Cisco since 1995, USA (succeeded by Chuck Robbins since July 27, 2015) and Pablo Isla (no MBA), CEO of Inditex since 2005, Spain.
In this Harvard-Ranking – covering 907 CEOs of corporations in 30 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Australia represented in the S&P Global 1200 Index – 74 CEO have no MBA, two of 100 CEOs are women, they have no MBA which clearly shows the diversity gap.
Considering the fact that future employment opportunities will be created much more by innovative small and medium enterprises and start-ups than by big corporations – trying to maintain their leading positions by buying such innovative enterprises – it is obvious that business schools and business universities have to adjust their offerings to future requirements of the business world.