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CAIL Innovation Blog

Innovation & Leadership Insights – from Peter Drucker

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Peter Drucker was a renound Management Consultant with extensive knowledge on leadership, innovation and managing change.  Some of his observations include –

1. Don’t just manage, lead

Drucker had a problem with the concept of managing knowledge workers. He felt that leadership was increasingly becoming a shared responsibility. He believed in pushing down decision-making to those closest to the process. To lead, in Drucker’s mind, was to empower people by providing the resources for success rather than a roadmap with turn-by-turn directions. If that frightens you, he said, then you have the wrong people leading your organization.

2. The way to keep good people is to give them a chance at the moon

To attract and retain the best people, ensure they are challenged and provide a platform for them to reach beyond themselves. This is important to contribute to and be part of something greater (ie: a “ moon shot ”) – a goal so large it creates a gravity to draw people to it and keep them in its orbit. Besides, challenge only scares off the people that you need to scare off !

3. Before figuring out how it should be done, ask why it’s being done

Drucker had an issue with using Industrial Era metrics for the Knowledge Age. He felt that all too often we streamline tasks without first asking why the task is being done to begin with. Always question the task’s reason for existence before fixing it – does it add value, and if so, how ? Drucker was a master at asking questions. Further, challenge conventional wisdom – and never be afraid say, “ I don’t know ”, or ask “ Why ? ”.

4. Explore and Learn

Drucker didn’t tolerate laziness. He, like others determined to meaningfully contribute, recognize it’s important to be constantly in motion and have a good attitude toward learning. Further, having an interest in new things and believing what you are doing matters, gives people a sense of purpose and tremendous pride from accomplishments.

5. Treat Associates as though they were volunteers

This is one of those perspectives that is completely unintuitive when you first hear it. Drucker spent the last part of his career working a great deal with nonprofits and volunteer organizations. He wanted to bring business acumen to nonprofits but he also believed that for-profit organizations could learn a lot from how non-profits attracted volunteers. “Volunteers,” he would say, “leave at the end of the day and only come back if they want to.” When you think about the work ethos among Millenials and Gen Z, who need a deep sense of social purpose in their work, it’s obvious that Drucker was ahead of his time.

6. Periodically abandon the past …. actually bury it

How do you manage the accelerating pace of change ? You do it by “ organized abandonment ” — consciously killing off yesterday. Drucker chose his words carefully with one his quotes being “ the hardest thing to do is to keep a corpse from rotting ”. While not a pleasant thought, there have been numerous examples of organizations holding onto the past – while the future passes them by.

7. Be humble

Oct 20, 2017 – CAIL – from Innovation industry commentary

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