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.     How Pursuit of Billionaire Hit One Dead End: Clearly, something was fishy at SAC Capital Advisors, one of Wall Street’s premier hedge funds. Clearly there was also an effort by the FBI to pursue it. The hope had been to use underlings to build an insider-trading case against billionaire Steven A. Cohen, the owner of SAC. But at the end of the day, according to the New York Times, most of the alleged misbehavior went unpunished. There are many lessons in the story. The Times, for its part, notes that it “highlights the challenges of using lower-level employees to build a case against their boss.”

2.     Why America Is Losing the Race for Entrepreneurial Talent: Americans like to tell themselves that immigration keeps the nation competitive and attracts the best of the best in entrepreneurship. In reality, however, the country makes it difficult for high-skill immigrants to obtain either visas or green cards. As immigration reform once again takes center stage, with a lot of attention being paid to those in the country illegally, it might be time to keep in mind a less prominent group—those here legally but not permanently. That’s what’s covered in a interview with Vivek Wadhwa in Knowledge@Wharton. Wadhwa, whose new book is called The Immigrant Exodus, tells his interviewer, “There’s a massive reverse brain drain of talent right now from the U.S. to other countries.”

3.     Dan Ariely: ‘What kids peeing in the pool can teach us about bankers’: We sometimes think we want more truth than we actually want. Writing in WiredDan Ariely points out that most of us will swim in a pool full of little kids, even though odds are almost zero that all of them are honoring the non-pee rule. On the other hand, if a kid were to stand at the side of a pool and pee into it, our denial would be impossible, and we’d be much less willing to take a swim. It’s a revolting analogy that Ariely uses to describe how he feels about J.P. Morgan recently losing billions of dollars through bad decisions and poor oversight: “JP Morgan Chase, like other banking companies, probably had some skeletons in the closet, but we didn’t know for sure, and so they continued on with their relatively good reputation.”  Now we can’t deny they’ve done their business in the pool.

4.     Dx Comment of the Week:  Last week, when Barack Obama nominated Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense, we noted that Peter Drucker considered the job to be structurally nearly impossible. Would Hagel have any chance at success?  “It depends on what we mean by ‘success,’” offered reader Greg Zerovnik, who elaborated:

I think it’s possible for a Secretary of Defense to communicate effectively and encourage collegiality between and among the various armed forces and their suppliers/contractors. A ‘good’ secretary of defense can interact constructively with the State Department, the CIA and Homeland Security.

That said, any Secretary of Defense is always expected to be the executor of the president’s mission and vision for the post. If that mission and vision lack clarity or are internally inconsistent in some way, that compromises his or her ability to take actions that fulfill the broader mission of protecting the country from its enemies.