How can Peter Drucker help you grow and expand your business in 2015? Pete Drucker once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” So what would Peter Drucker do today to help you create your future? I was lucky enough to be exposed to much of Peter’s work over my whole career. I’ve read over 25 of his books and we share several clients and partners.
Judging by the holiday gifts I got this year, his management thinking is still in demand. I don’t mind sharing that sometimes when working with a more senior client, I use some of Peter’s great wisdom to help support the points I’m trying to make. I just don’t tell clients when he first made the point.
I’ll share a simple four step process I adapted from Peter’s work on how to see the future. The concepts are Peter’s, but I also share my thoughts to help you apply it to your organization today. This four step process helps you not only see the possibilities, but also how to implement them to provide your organization the future you develop.
The first step in understanding the future is to appreciate what you have. Peter revolutionized management thinking by sharing the idea of a strength based organization. Successful CEOs learn to determine what’s working when developing their future plans. Peter stressed that it was critical for leadership to understand what is currently working for them. Doesn’t sound so revolutionary today, but back in the early 1960’s it was almost unheard of.
Organizations during this time tried to standardize everything including their people. Peter was the first major business writer and consultant to stress focusing on strengths could take organizations to a higher level of success than using standardized practices across the business. Actually, both he and W. Edwards Deming saw people as the secret of long term organizational success. It was a hard sell for both these men, but over time both proved out to be correct.
The second step in understanding the future is to know what isn’t working for your organization today. Today, many organizations are wedded to ideas and strategies that aren’t working for them. Peter suggested (although suggested might be too weak a word!) that organizations must abandon ideas that are not working for them. Sounds simple, but ask any executive how hard it is to leave projects behind that have been significantly funded. It’s almost impossible.
Peter used to share a concept that he called zero based thinking. His question was always what business would you not get into today if you knew what you know now. This question allows you to move forward on only the most productive ideas for your business. Ask you market managers this and you may be surprised at the answers you receive. By abandoning your bad ideas earlier you have time and resources to create and implement your breakthough ideas. Breakthrough ideas help you create a future that your business can expand and grow in.
The third step in understanding the future is to look for early indications of what is going to happen by looking at what is happening today. This means spending significant time understanding the culture to identify possible scenarios that can unfold in both our markets and our world. I can only imagine how far Peter would look into today with all the modern technologies that are available to help with this research. I believe this may be the best known secret of Peter’s ability to see the future. He saw the future while looking at today. As a side note; it takes a high level of discipline not to act too quickly on information. It’s a trait that both Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn share. They have different ways of taking action after observing, however.
The final step in understanding the future is to see where leverage exists in different possible scenarios. Pete made it a habit to look at different changes in society from a wider view than many of his contemporaries. He would look at challenges from the different points of view from many of the different stakeholders. By looking at a number of points of view he was better able to decide how the future might occur.
I believe Peter Drucker was an optimist. He was an agile thinker. He saw the possibilities, when others saw insurmountable obstacles. When he looked at a challenge he was open to looking at a wider range of solutions than others. He saw many of our world’s challenges being solved not by allowing the future to unfold the way it is, but the way it can be created. This provided him and the leaders he worked with a better view of the future because of a proactive role in creating it.
If you’d like to know more about creating a great future, you might enjoy Create Your Future, The Peter Drucker Way by Bruce Rosenstein. You can find more about Bruce and his breakthrough book at his website.
Try applying this process to your future and I believe you will be pleasantly surprised by how it turns out. We will see you here next week, when we share several trends that will change the direction of your future. See you here. Have a Happy New Year!