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 to Lose Great Leaders? Ask the Army: A stint in the military might be a great way to learn how to manage a group. But not for long. According to an article in the Washington Post by Tim Kane, chief economist of the Hudson Institute, the Army has “bled talent for decades,” with people poorly matched to their jobs and little leeway for officers to make choices about their own careers. “Smart organizations in the private sector have learned that putting employees’ needs first—ahead of corporate ones—only seems unproductive to short-term thinkers,” Kane writes. “Compulsion just won’t work in today’s labor market.”

2.       How Seemingly Irrelevant Ideas Lead to Breakthrough Innovation: Peter Drucker wrote about the importance of bringing the “meaningful outside” into the organization. But what exactly is meaningful? According to an article in Knowledge@Wharton, organizations must encourage bringing “peripheral knowledge” to core tasks. What’s harder is to figure out how to structure it. “Should managers then encourage workers to engage in outside projects and hobbies and share their seemingly irrelevant experiences with their teams when working on a project?” the article asks. “The answer is tricky.”

3.       Is Viral Marketing a Myth?: We’ve all seen Internet phenomena that take off for reasons no one quite understands. But those seem to be miracles more than strategies. Writing at the MIT Sloan Management ReviewMichael Fitzgerald reports on research by Sharad Goel, senior researcher at Microsoft Research in New York, suggesting that any attempt to orchestrate what professionals call “multistep diffusion” is folly. He writes, “For marketers, Goel’s research means it’s time to abandon the idea that viral marketing via social media will lead to tenfold organic growth.”

4.     Dx Comment of the Week:  Last week, when we asked how a company that produces garage openers or ball bearings can instill a sense of meaning in its workforce, reader Mike Grayson had this to say:

Being fulfilled starts within oneself. It requires the right attitude. A good leader can inspire that attitude by showing someone how their contribution matters, how they are making a difference in this world.
Having a garage door that gets stuck half way up, or an engine that seizes due to a faulty bearing can ruin a person’s day. But we take those things for granted. We should be thankful to those who take pride in their work and make products that we can depend on.