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 Disappearing COO and the Evaporating Talent Pool: If you’re a COO, you could well be on your way to being an endangered species. Stephen A. MilesNate Bennett and Walt Shill write in Bloomberg Businessweek that only 38% of Fortune 500 companies have a COO, in comparison with 48% in 2000. CEOs increasingly seem to think they’re able to do it on their own. And this, say the authors, is a risky way to act: “So what happens when you add to the mix challenges that COOs traditionally contend with: the mastery of complex supply chains, managing scarce talent or integrating procurement more effectively into design and production?”

2.     A Hotter Climate Limits Growth: I’m hot. Let’s take the day off. Nina Kruschwitz reports at MIT Sloan Management Review on new research by MIT professor of economics Benjamin Olken, who suggests that hot spells in developing countries can impede economic growth. How much? “Olken and his colleagues found that every 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature in a poor country reduces economic growth by around 1.3 percentage points” by cutting into agricultural production, factory output, commerce and more.

3.     Why You Need Charisma: One of the biggest skeptics of charismatic leaders was Peter Drucker, who considered them to be hazardous to good management and long-term organizational (or national) health. But Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School, has a different view of the matter: Charisma, she writes at the HBR Blog, is a good useful, and even necessary thing. “Charisma has been getting a bad rap recently. . . . But rejecting charisma as a factor goes overboard, missing the personal appeal that makes someone a leader.”

4.      The Dx Comment of the Week: In last week’s selection of Drucker readings, we linked to a New York Times interview with Tracy Streckenbach, president and chief operating officer of Innovative Global Brands, who downplayed the role of mission: “To me, the mission can be a little academic. I’ve got to create change quickly and drive results.” Reader Greg Zerovnik objected to this:

Ms. Streckenbach…thinks a mission is a mission statement. Nothing could be further from the truth. A mission statement is a politically correct expression of what every existing part of a corporate entity likes to think justifies its existence. Mission statements are verbose, redundant and conceptually bankrupt. . . . The mission, on the other hand, is why you are in business: whom you serve and what you do to provide that service. It is short, pithy and ingrained into the corporate culture. It doesn’t need to be framed and hung on a wall because 99% of the people in the company know what it is.