Tag Archives: Peter Drucker

The Post Office Was Out of Stamps – Can you Believe It?!

Sold Out!

This one is simply beyond me.  My friend Larry James went to the Post Office to buy stamps – and they.were.out.of.stamps!  Twice! (read about it here).

Peter Drucker famously counseled all businesses to answer these three questions:

What is your business?
Who is your customer?
What does your customer consider value?

When a business fails at its core business (Larry wrote about this), then you’ve got real trouble for that business.

This one is simply beyond me.


Keep Learning – It’s Your Only Job Security (Macrowikinomics reinforces this ever-more-true truth)

Yesterday you graduated and you were set for life – only needing to “keep up” a bit with ongoing developments in your chosen field.  Today when you graduate you’re set for, say, fifteen minutes.  If you took a technical course in the first year of your studies, half of what you learned may be obsolete by your fourth year…  What counts more is your capacity to learn lifelong, to think, research, find information, analyze, synthesize, contextualize, and critically evaluate; to apply research to solving problems, to collaborate and communicate.  This is particularly important for students and employees who compete in a global economy…  given networked business models, knowledge workers face competition in real time.  Workers and managers must learn, adapt, and perform like never before.
Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World

{Peter Drucker said it first:
“The only job security is found in your own ability to keep learning!”}

{And Peter Senge:
“Through learning, we re-create ourselves.”}

The Need for Continuous Learning (Peter Drucker, 1994)

It never ends. There is always the next new thing to learn.  And not just the next new thing, but, in reality, the new world — the whole new landscape, the changing approach, to work itself.  “The old has gone, the new” keeps coming…

Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker, who coined the phrase the “knowledge worker” in his 1959 book Landmarks of Tomorrow, wrote this in his 1994 essay: The Age of Social Transformation:

The great majority of the new jobs require qualifications the industrial worker does not possess and is poorly equipped to acquire.  They require a good deal of formal education and the ability to acquire and to apply theoretical and analytical knowledge.  They require a different approach to work and a different mind-set.  Above all, they require a habit of continuous learning.  Displaced industrial workers thus cannot simply move into knowledge work or services the way displaced farmers and domestic workers (the dominant jobs at the turn of the last century – R.M) moved into industrial work.  At the very least they have to change their basic attitudes, values, and beliefs.

Life-Long Learning – Really!

Back around 1994, I was asked to speak to residents of a local upscale Retirement Community on Current Events.  The woman who asked me, the activities director at the Retirement Community, knew that I loved “keeping up,” and felt that I might help her residents stay connected with the larger world.

Now, 16 years later, I am still presenting “Current Events” at such communities.  My opening line at all of these places, at every session, is “I’m Randy Mayeux, and I’m here to talk about whatever is in the news.” (By the way, after all these years, the most unforgettable moment was a session I led discussing the Oklahoma City Bombing just minutes after I heard the news…).

It has expanded from one place to many, and it also expanded into other types of presentations, such as book reviews, and general presentations on multiple topics.  (My arrangement at all of these places is that when I have a “business engagement,” I will reschedule for the Current Events).

Some of the Life-Long Learners at Chambrel at Club Hill

A couple of years ago, at Chambrel at Club Hill in Garland, Jan Jordan, the “Director of Lifestyle Programs,” (the job title has changed a time or two, but I’ve worked with Jan for nearly the entire 16 years), asked me if I would lead a reading group.  It was actually prompted by a request from a well-read, thoughtful woman who longed for a gathering that took the conversations a little deeper.  (Sadly, the woman who started this has suffered a stroke, and is no longer at the community).

After a little experimentation, I finally decided on this course:  I copy an essay, magazine article, or speech, and we discuss this at our twice monthly gatherings.  We have worked through many of the speeches in Lend Me Your Ears edited by William Safire, numerous essays by Malcolm Gladwell and a host of others, and misc. other readings.

This past week we discussed the first third of the famous essay by Peter Drucker, The Age of Social Transformation published in The Atlantic in November, 1994.  It is a masterpiece.  Let me say that again — I am discussing Drucker’s famous essay with a group of retired people.  And it is a wonderful discussion!

The people that I speak to and read with in these retirement communities are remarkable folks.  They are intelligent, and absolutely want to keep learning.  If you have ever wondered if “lifelong learning” is possible, you should visit with these folks.

Yes, it helps to make the font as big as possible for the copies.  One woman puts these copies in her “reading machine,” that blows up the text to size really huge.  But the thoughts and comments that they share are just terrific, and their life experiences are so diverse and rich.  In this particular group, we have a woman from Germany, a woman whose parents came from Norway, and people who have lived all across the United States.

And the reading that I do to lead this group has helped me discover some real gems.

By the way, when we finish Drucker’s essay, we are next reading Frank Sinatra Has a Cold by Gay Talese.

Life-long learning.  Really!  It is possible, and actually goes on in these retirement communities, and, I suspect, in other places all over the globe.

You Don’t Need To Read Another Business Book, Until…

Back in my ministry days, I read a little from/about Juan Carlos Ortiz.  The story goes that one Sunday, he delivered an impassioned sermon on:  “Brothers and Sisters, Love one another.” Filled with Scripture, stories, pleas, arguments, he urged his folks to actually love one another more deeply.  The following Sunday, he stood up to preach his sermon, and here it was, in its entirety:

“Brothers and Sisters, love one another.”

Then he sat down.  After an awkward silence, with the congregation a little confused, a member of his church called out, “Brother Ortiz, we are waiting to hear your sermon.” Preacher Ortiz rose to the pulpit, and said:

“When you actually love one another, as I preached last week, then I will preach my next sermon.”

Whether the story is true or not, I certainly get the point.  It is certainly a true to the real world story.

We read a book filled with good ideas.  We think of ways to change/better our work.  We “decide” to do things differently.  We “learn” what was in the book we read.

But maybe we need to not read any other books; we need to not read the “next book;”  until we actually do what this last book we read encouraged/”taught” us to do.

Years ago, for a workshop on some subject or another, I adapted some thoughts from Peter Senge, and included these paragraphs in the handout material:

“The only job security is found in your own ability to keep learning!” (Peter Drucker)

“Through learning, we re-create ourselves.” (Peter Senge)

Learning leads to life style changes which lead to skills:
Learning is far more than taking in information.  “Learning is expanding the ability to produce the results we truly want in life.” (Peter Senge)

The ultimate learning disability:
“People with a high level of personal mastery are acutely aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, and their growth areas.” (Peter Senge)

When have you learned?

You have learned when you can do,
and then you actually do,
the skills that are needed to take your next step.

So – yes, I do encourage you to read that next business book.  This blog can help you find just the right title for your next areas of concern/growth/challenge.  But maybe the wisest course of action is this one:

1)    Read a book.
2)    Do/implement what it says; what you learned – until it is habit.
3)    Then, read the next book – and repeat the process.