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 Coming Global Toilet Boom: If you’re an entrepreneur who notices a demographic shift on the horizon before others do, you can have a market to yourself for a long time, according to Peter Drucker.  So someone is going to get very rich off of a non-glamorous but inevitable boom in toilets. Alfredo Behrens explains in a post at the HBR Blog that migration from countryside to city will drive much of this trend: “India, for instance, expects to see some 350-400 million people becoming urban residents in the next three decades. That could mean demand for as many as 150 million new toilets.”

2.    Winning the Factory Wars: Few economic trends cause Americans more heartache than a supposed hollowing out of the U.S. manufacturing sector. How severe it really is provokes a lot of disagreement, but certainly a lot of manufacturing has moved overseas since 1970. But one trend that’s easily overlooked, argues Harold Sirkin in Bloomberg Businessweek, is the number of companies, both foreign-owned and U.S.-owned, that are finding in the United States a competitive and congenial place to get stuff made: “The biggest factor is labor costs, which are lower in the U.S. when adjusted for the higher productivity of U.S. workers.”

3.    When Humility and Audacity Go Hand in Hand:  One of the toughest things to master in an organization is communication. Drucker liked to observe that speech, without understanding, is just so much noise, and that non-verbal communication is just as important. It’s a problem that Jacqueline Novogratz, chief executive of the Acumen Fund, an organization that invests in businesses to reduce world poverty, often sees. As she explains in a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times, “Leaders can get stuck in groupthink because they’re really not listening, or they’re listening only to what they want to listen to, or they actually think they’re so right that they’re not interested in listening.”

4.    Dx Comment of the Week: Last week, we examined the role of the United Nations and noted that Peter Drucker considered the development of sturdier international institutions to be both essential and politically fraught. What, we asked, would the most effective entity with which to bring about more effective transnational cooperation? Reader Richard Straub had this to say:

Regarding world governance—it seems that we are still struggling to establish functioning regional governance. Consequently, centralized world governance seems to be out of reach. Shouldn’t we work on strengthening regional governance systems under the auspices and with support of the U.N.?