Mobilizing Intelligence: Three Lessons From the Drucker Forum in Vienna

Rick Wartzman
Rick Wartzman

In his latest column for Forbes online, Drucker Institute Executive Director Rick Wartzman examines how “information technology is reshaping all sorts of organizations,” as he shares three lessons that were discussed last week during the Fourth Global Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna.

The first lesson is that “most companies are still stuck in a pre-knowledge-era mindset”—an antiquated orientation that Peter Drucker initially wrote about in his 1959 book Landmarks of Tomorrow and that “most organizations are, more than five decades later, still coming to terms with,” according to Wartzman. He then quotes consultant and author Tammy Erickson, who told the Drucker forum: “Today we live in a world in which the biggest challenge facing any company and every business leader is to mobilize intelligence.”

The second lesson: “Getting information to flow seamlessly between parts of the organization, as well as between its walls and the outside universe, remains daunting.” The key question is, “How do you prepare leaders to cooperate and coordinate across complex boundaries?” London Business School’s Lynda Gratton asked at the close of her forum presentation.

Third, “don’t underestimate what can be done when people have vital information in their hands.” As Drucker wrote in his 2002 book Managing in the Next Society: “Whoever has the information has the power. Power is thus shifting to the customer.” Wartzman notes that “in the U.S., at least, Best Buy has become the poster child for this dramatic transformation. But to really comprehend how far-reaching its effects can be, we should all be looking toward China, where 530 million people are now connected to the Internet and half of those use social media every day.”