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.  Boston Bombing: Perceived Danger and the Public SafetyWriting in ForbesSteve Denning points out the stubborn tendency among humans to get frightened by the low-probability dangers and stay complacent about the high-probability ones—such as car crashes, diabetes or even financial mismanagement by overly large financial institutions.  He adds, “While we should all feel deep sympathy for the victims of yesterday’s terrorist bombings in Boston, and intensive effort should be expended to hunt down those responsible, the greatest danger from such an event may be an exaggerated official response that aggravates, rather than protects, the public safety.”

2.   Tata’s Nano, the World’s Cheapest Car, Is Sputtering: It ought to be a runaway success. Indian consumers have more money, and they want to ditch their scooters, so why shouldn’t they want the world’s most inexpensive automobile, the Tata Nano? But, as an article in Bloomberg Businessweek notes, sales of Nanos number only 229,157 since 2009.  Indian consumers, it turns out, want something fancier and more upscale-seeming, even if it means a higher price. So farewell, bare-bones Tata, which “will soon add improvements to breathe new life into the model, a move that would ultimately bring its price closer to those of rivals.”

3.  What Ron Johnson Got Right: Last week, we ran a fairly stern post—based on some fairly stern media coverage overall—about what Ron Johnson got wrong as the head of J.C. Penney. Now to Johnson’s defense comes Gardiner Morse at Harvard Business Review. Yes, Johnson made lots of mistakes, writes Morse, but Johnson also had too little time to allow his strategy to bear fruit (even Apple’s “Genius Bars” took years to catch on with consumers), and he was right about the importance of intuition: “Johnson saw the problem clearly, he had an appropriate sense of urgency, he had a gut sense about how to get Penney out of its bind—and a belief . . . that customers needed to be led into the light.”

4.  Dx Comment of the Week: Last week, noting a report by Citizens For Tax Justice calling out Southwest Airlines for paying zero taxes, we asked about the morality of tax avoidance on the part of corporations. Disgruntled reader John Karayan had this to say:

Isn’t it ironic that Southwest Air has paid during its lifetime infinitely greater multiples of the income taxes paid by Citizens For Tax Justice (and other income tax-exempt organizations which lobby for higher taxes on everyone else)? Indeed, not only do tax-exempt lobbying groups never, ever, ever, pay any income taxes, but also their main source of revenue is tax-deductible contributions. Put another way, they doubly cheat on paying their fair share of income taxes.