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.     More Direct Reports Make Life Easier:  How many direct reports should you take on? Traditionally, the accepted range among most professionals has been five to seven. Forget tradition, says Ron Ashkenas at the HBR Blog. Take on 10 direct reports—even 15! That’s because the manager’s role has changed. “No longer is her primary function to aggregate work done by subordinates and control their activities; rather it is to foster teamwork and communication, while providing inspiration and direction,” writes Ashkeans. “In short, today the manager’s job is more about leadership than control.”

2.     ‘Moral Decoupling:’ How Consumers Justify Supporting a Tarnished Brand: Still cherish your O.J. Simpson jersey? Can you love the football player and hate the man? If so, you’re engaging in what Wharton marketing professor Americus Reed and doctoral students Amit Bhattacharjee and Jonathan Berman call “moral decoupling.” As a post at Knowledge@Wharton explains, by separating someone’s private moral behavior from their public career, a fan or customer “can wholeheartedly support the public figure without being subject to self-reproach.” And now we have a lot more research to explain such reasoning—or rationalizing—in depth.

3.     How to Stop Hospitals From Killing Us: The number of deaths caused by hospital error is so high that medical error would, if it were classified as a disease, be the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. But Marty Makary, writing in The Wall Street Journal, says things don’t have to be that way. Many of the fixes are as simple as introducing a little more teamwork and transparency into a field that’s often seen as secretive and arrogant. Makary writes, “With more transparency—and the accountability that it brings—we can address the cost crisis, deliver safer care and improve how we are seen by the communities we serve.”

4.     The Dx Comment of the Week: Last week, when we looked at the controversy over Mitt Romney and his remarks about makers and takers, we asked if an ethic of “interdependence,” as put forth by Peter Drucker, was applicable to modern society. Reader Horst Lehrheuer said yes, but he still wondered why it can be so hard for us to wrap our heads around it:

I found one insightful answer from the late physicist and cybernetician Heinz von Foerster (who was also born in Vienna, like Peter Drucker) … We live our lives as if we are looking through a peephole, which cognitively separates us from the world we live in. I call this simply apart from thinking (vs. part of’ the world thinking that is in sync with the concept of interdependence), resulting in apart from actions.