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.      Is Your Company Ready to Listen?: Customers are more powerful than ever. Today, a nasty online review written by someone in Quito, Peru, can have reverberations in Beijing, China. Traditionally, businesses have done their best to conceal such dissatisfaction, and that’s no longer possible. But this change is in many ways good for businesses, argues Guillermo Perezbolde, founder of social media marketing agency Mente Digital, in a post at the World of Business Ideas blog. “Without too much time studying the market your company can obtain essential information and reactions about your product or service,” Perezbolde notes, adding that “when businesses take interaction seriously they turn into the consumer’s ally.”

2.     What’s Right with Reverse Mortgages: Reverse mortgages sound scary, much like subprime mortgages. They’re the things used to cheat granny out of her home. Except that it’s nonsense, claims Wharton emeritus finance professor Jack Guttentag in a post at Knowledge@Wharton. “Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), or reverse mortgages, which are designed, administered and insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), are one of the best engineered financial tools of our generation,” he writes. The real risk is that all the many people who can and do benefit from them will be scared off in the future.

3.     What I Learned from My TED Talk: It’s exciting to get an invitation to speak at TED, but it’s painful to flub it. That’s what happened to Nilofer Merchant, a lecturer at Stanford and formerly the founder and CEO of Rubicon, who writes at the HBR Blog about her experience and what she learned from it. Merchant notes that we often think of ourselves as accumulating learning and getting better and better. But often we learn the wrong things—and we must unlearn them. That is hard and sometimes painful. “Unlearning is harder than learning, but it’s crucial to do,” Merchant writes, “because innovation and creativity are rarely about doing more of the same.”

4.     Dx Comment of the Week: Last week, when we discussed the “women in binders” moment in the presidential debate, we raised the question of whether it’s reasonable to expect women to want different compensation patterns. Reader Judie Forbes had this to say:

The first thing I ever heard Peter Drucker say was ‘Ma Bell was a male chauvinist.’ It is number one in my copious notebooks of Druckerisms. Drucker was talking about the process of first saying women weren’t qualified for management positions, then when pressed, promoting some without training or guidance, then observing the result and saying, ‘See, we told you they weren’t qualified.’

Although Drucker acknowledged that women handle more of the social/family responsibilities, the solution is not paternalism, nor is it making the job ‘easier’ for women. It is assuring that they have the information needed to do the job.