Jul 24, 2012

What Peter Drucker Would Be Reading

Peter Drucker

Recent selections from around the web that, we think, would have caught Peter Drucker’s eye:

1.     The Customer as a God: Some of us find the power of large companies to be frightening, with too much of our personal data falling into the hands of strangers. For now, writes Doc Searls in The Wall Street Journal, many businesses view the free market as “one in which customers get to choose their captors. Choosing among AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon for your new smartphone is like choosing where you’d like to live under house arrest.” But in a few decades, the power balance will shift more decisively to the consumer: “Progress in empowering customers won’t be smooth or even, but it will happen.”

2.     Innovation Almost Bankrupted LEGO — Until It Rebuilt with a Better Blueprint: In theory, LEGO was doing everything right. It was never staying still, innovating at a rapid and busy clip. But sometimes you can innovate too much.  An article at Knowledge@Wharton notes that LEGO lost its focus and its way in the early 2000s. Eventually, by returning more to basics, the company got back on track. Its rule: “Any innovation had to prove to be consistent with the company goal of LEGO being recognized as the best company for family products.”

3.     Clay Christensen Asks: How Will You Measure Your Life?: Posing a question reminiscent of Peter Drucker’s “What do you want to be remembered for?” Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen has been concerned with how people falter and take wrong turns.  A particularly common hazard has been to push aside family in favor of career, at the expense of family closeness. MIT Sloan Management Review quotes Christensen on the phenomenon: “Our careers provide the most very tangible, immediate achievement. In contrast, investments in our families don’t pay off for a very long time.”

4.     The Dx Comment of the Week:  Last week, when we asked about whether a change in tax policy would help foster entrepreneurship, reader John Karayan contended that Peter Drucker felt taxes were only a small part of the equation:

Drucker talking about regulatory costs in general. He was well aware of the highly disproportionate effect such costs can have on start-ups. He also was aware of the secondary effect of increased levels of regulation on career choices: capable people choosing careers in law and accounting, rather than engineering or entrepreneurship.

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