Posts Tagged ‘Drucker’

Innovation and Abandonment

December 19, 2009 Leave a comment

A prior post of mine was titled “Let Go of the Old”. Recently,  I ran across a chapter in Peter Drucker’s book “The Definitive Drucker” titled, “Innovation and Abandonment”, where he dug deeper into the theme of new vs. old. Here are a few of his quotes:

“If you don’t understand innovation you don’t understand business.”

“Innovation is about shaking loose from yesterday’s world so that we gain the freedom to create tomorrow.”

“You can’t throw everything out, or you’ll have anarchy. You can’t hold on to everything or you’ll die.”

“Without the will to take risks, to venture into the unknown and let go of the familiar past, a corporation cannot thrive in the twenty-first century.”

“Systematic abandonment is both the most important and most difficult step in innovation.”

“The entrepreneur always, searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”

“All assumptions must be challenged”.

All businesses should be in the midst of Innovation and Abandonment. Look around. Are your key personnel, your top thinkers… experiencing and struggling through the process of Innovation and Abandonment? If they are not, you should be concerned.

Innovation and abandonment were at the core of Drucker’s thinking. He believed that the best way to predict the future was to create it. You can play a key role in helping your organization create its future. How?

First, by taking a few moments to grasp the concept of  innovation and abandonment.  And second,  make certain you maintain a sense of urgency to learn the new, to embrace the changes with a positive attitude, and to provide/reach out for constructive feedback. It’s this  feedback/input that allows for  improvements to be made as quickly as possible.

Let’s not stymie our innovation by excessive and/or blind loyalty to the old way of doing things.

Categories: Leadership Tags: , ,

Few do it well – from success to significance

December 5, 2009 7 comments

At least that’s my current observation.

Do most successful people, which you can define any way you like, reach their destination and quit? Well, maybe not quit, but do most enter a “maintenance mode”, doing only what they need to…to preserve their level of success? Playing it safe, taking no chances, holding on to stability.  Said another way, once they “arrive”, is coasting inevitable? Is it that they’ve hit a plateau? a wall? Have they given all they had, last chapter – end of story?

Lots of questions…just some of which have been in my observation and reflection lens recently.

My take aways from some recent readings show that a common characteristic of some individuals nearing the first half of their life, develop an unquenchable desire to move from success to significance. After spending a period of time doing what they were suppose to do, they now search for something in the second half that is more meaningful and which meets their definition of significance. This can be a restless, challenging & invigorating time. It can also be the time period which results in a midlife crisis – which unfortunately for  many lead to bad decisions, and a journey into the wilderness.

Here’s a quote that has been attributed to Peter Drucker, “people now have two lives — life one and life two…. They are over prepared for life one and under prepared for life two…there is no university for the second half of life.”

I want to go deeper into stories of those who navigated successfully this period of success to significance.

What are your observations?

Who do you know, and what are their stories that are shining examples of navigating from success to significance?

Categories: Leadership Tags: , ,

Is Time…the limiting factor to accomplishment?

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Over the past weeks I was engaged  in a number of conversations with professional staff that had a common theme…”time”. Here is a summary of what I heard:

“I didn’t get it done on time.”

“I couldn’t find the time.”

“I ran out of time.”

“If only I had more time.”

“I wasn’t given enough time.”

“There’s no time.”

Here is what  Peter Drucker has to say about time.

Time is your limiting resource and it is totally irreplaceable in your life. You cannot expand the amount of time you have available per day, week, or year, as you can expand your other resources such as capital and people.

Yet, everything you do requires your time. This means that your accomplishments and your effectiveness are set, or limited, by the way you manage your time, your scarcest resource.

Unless you manage your time, you will not be able to manage anything else. The management of your time, therefore, is the foundation for your effectiveness. And the good news is that you can manage your time and improve the management of your time with practice and with constant effort. (The Effective Executive, Chapter 2)


Effective people know that time is the limiting factor. The output limits of any process are set by the scarcest resource. In the process we call “accomplishment”, this is time.


Knowledge is useless to executives until it has been translated into deeds. But before springing into action, the executive needs to plan his course. He needs to think about desired results, probable restraints, future revisions, check-in points, and implications for how he’ll spend his time.

The action plan is a statement of intentions rather that a commitment….It should be revised often because every success creates new opportunities. So does every failure….A written plan should anticipate the need for flexibility.

In addition, the action plan needs to create a system for checking the results against expectations….

Finally, the action plan has to become the basis for the executive’s time management. Time is the executive’s scarcest and most precious resource. And organizations…are inherently time wasters. The action plan will prove useless unless it’s allowed to determine how the executive spends his or her time.

Peter F. Drucker, “What Makes an Effective Executive”, Harvard Business Review, June 2004, p.60

I read something recently that initially seemed to run contrary to Drucker, in that the writer made the following observation…”you can’t manage time”. And he went on to say that when you approach the issues you are dealing with from a “time” angle, you have little chance of being effective. His underlying premise was what you really manage is your activity during time. In other words, the focus needs to be redirected to the principles and systems that you use to make conscious decisions about the activities that occupy your time. He was in agreement with Drucker, just another way of saying the same thing.

If you’ve struggling with “time” issues, here are some questions to reflect on:

Do I consciously behave as though time is the limiting factor to my effectiveness?

Do I start and end my day with good time practices?

Am I respectful of others time?

Am I blaming others for my “time” issues?

Should I ask for the observation of others about my time management style?

Am I afraid about the truth about my existing time usage?

Am I afraid of missing wasteful activities I enjoy doing?

If you jot down your reflections on these questions, I’m certain you’ll find a few clues on how to improve your effectiveness…and thus, accomplishments!

Categories: Leadership Tags:

Getting the Right Things Done

November 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Effectiveness = getting the right things done.

Sounds simple, right?

But for most of us, whether we recognize it or not, this is a significant daily challenge. What are the right things? What are the wrong things? In order to get your hands around this concept, it is essential that you possess a high-degree of self-awareness or a good friend/accountability partner, who can challenge you to discover the right and wrong things. Most of us need the latter.

Here are a few thoughts from Peter Drucker.

To be effective the knowledge worker is, first of all, expected to get the right things done.


Every knowledge worker in a modern organization is an “executive” if, by virtue of his or her position or knowledge, he or she is responsible for a contribution that materially affects the capacity of the organization to perform and to obtain results.

The Effective Executive, pp. 5-9


What Needs to Be Done

Successful leaders don’t start out asking, “What do I want to do?” They ask, “What needs to be done?” They then ask, “Of those things that would make a difference, which are right for me?” They don’t tackle things they aren’t good at. They make sure other necessities get done, but not by them; they appoint someone else. Successful leaders make sure that they are effective! They are not afraid of strength in others. Andrew Carnegie wanted to put on his gravestone, “Here lies a man who knew how to put into his service men more able than he was himself.”

Interview by Rich Karlgaard, “Peter Drucker on Leadership”,, November 19, 2004


If you’re interested in becoming more effective, and thus by definition, getting the right things done… reflect on the following questions and consider the action items.



What am I getting paid to do?

What should I do if I am being paid for getting the right things done in my position?

Are the “right things” as I define it, in alignment with my employer/immediate supervisor?

Am I doing things that I shouldn’t be doing?

What are those things that are getting in the way of me doing the right things?


Action Items

Eliminate or reduce the activities that do not contribute to effectiveness, i.e. the things you shouldn’t be doing.

List the activities that you question whether you should be doing them or not.

Talk with someone about your findings.


Remember, effectiveness is a habit, a mix of practices. The good news is that practices can be learned. And one learns by…, practice, practice, and still more practice.

I’d be interested in knowing your observations and findings.

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