Peter Drucker’s contribution to leadership

I’m sad to acknowledge that I’ve taken this long to catch up with the news of Peter Drucker’s passing.
Here is Harvard Business Review’s acknowledgment of his contribution to management and leadership thinking.

Freedom and the fear of being powerful

As you may have gathered, is re-reading Synchronicity at the moment. I read something this morning that reminded me of the poem Our Greatest Fear by Marianne Williamson (quoted by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech.)
So much of our work lives are driven by fear. We don’t speak up because we are afraid of the consequences. We don’t apply for that job or seek an interview with that person because we are afraid of their reaction. We work hard and long because it is easier than doing the more important things. We look for prestige in expensive cars or high powered jobs because we are afraid that no-one will notice us.
What would it be like to let go of that fear and be free of it? To discover our higher purpose and become single mindedly focussed on striving towards that purpose? To find that we are indeed powerful? To find that each of us has an important role in shaping the future?

Deep Conversations

A colleague and I are currently planning a forum for leaders. At our most recent
planning session, my colleague brought along her copy of Synchronicty. A book I love but had allowed
to slip to the back of my mind. I had lent my copy to a friend so hadn’t read
it for a while. My thirst for this book was so rekindled, that I went out and
bought another copy. (I decided to make a gift of the copy I had lent.)

The last chapter is one of the most moving pieces of writing I have in my collection.
Tears were rolling down my cheeks as I re-read it in a cafe yesterday.

The chapter describes a meeting organised by Peter
and others at Bretton Woods,
New Hampshire, USA. It was a "three-day gathering of about 350 people who
had been actively engaged in creating learning organizations and communities.
The intent of the gathering … was to engage in deep conversation about what
had been learned so far."

The location for the conference was highly significant. The Mount Washington
Hotel, was the site of the 1944
International Monetary Conference
which set the parameters for postwar monetary
stability required for reconstruction. In 1994 it was also the site of amazing
scenes as deep conversations became the source of powerful events in the lives
of those present. believes that deep conversations always lead to powerful changes.
We invite you to seek out opportunities for deep converstation and look to how
you will help to form the future.

The young rich paupers this week finally got around to opening his copy of BRW’s Young Rich issue. In many ways it’s hard going. Lots of thirty year-olds giving the secrets of their “success”. As if these 30 y.o.’s know what “success” is. As if any of us really know what “success” is.
Regardless of all my uncertainties and insecurities around success, I am certain it has nothing to do with simply getting a lot of money – especially when the “money” is only paper share value. Perhaps running a business that builds wealth and services for a great number of people may help develop wisdom. That sounds as though it might be on the path to success.
Given my reticence to read this issue, I was at least refreshed to read Hugh Joffe’s article The young and the relentless (subscription required sorry).
I’ve always wondered why we glorify rich people so much. Apart from wanting to emulate them ourselves, Joffe points out that the rest of us benefit (in jobs and our own wealth) from the entrepreneur. However

Sadly, some make themselves and their families unhappy while they produce many benefits for the rest of us.

Sad indeed.
Further to the point

“…those who have [wealth] can seem brash and imnipotent, believing that ordinary rules of conduct do not apply to them. It is as if destiny has provided them with special powers, allowing them to be immune form any form of censure… These attitudes can foster insincere ways of relating and therefore too many wealthy young people have developed a lack of personal meaning (my emphasis)

I wonder what seeds we are sowing in our society by pushing our children from the youngest ages to strive for “success”.
I can’t do better than Joffe in finishing with a quote from Neil Simon: “Money brings some happiness. But after a certain point, it just brings more money.”

Death Sentence

I have just added Death Sentence by Don Watson, to the Bookshelf.

Policy vs Public Administration

Dr Patrick Coghlan, National Transplantation Services Manager, Australian Red Cross Blood Service, raised a wide range of ethical issues and challenges for organisation development practitioners at the OD Australia AGM last Wednesday.
One of the many that raised our interest was the current blurring of the line between government policy and administration. Policy is becoming so detailed that there is no room for interpretation. regards this as an example of the Culture Wars (also here on wikipedia) in action.
The view of the new right, and possibly a majority of the public in general, is that public administrators cannot be trusted to implement public policy. Teachers, for example have become slaves to a new educational ideology that at beast produces poorly educated children.
At worst, and of most concern to conservative thinkers, progressive educationalists while claiming that they encourage students to think widely for themselves, actually indoctrinate children in anti-western, anti-capitalist thinking.
This is only one area where this thinking challenges the ability of public administrators to carry out policy. The response is to write policy so detailed that there is no room to move. In education, as you can see is a topic close to’s heart, this has meant a move from school based curriculum and testing to nationally prescribed curriculum and “standards”.
Fundamentally, this is a result of public insecurity. At a time when our life expectancy is longer than ever before, we are more concerned about health risks than ever before. Our parents and grandparents lived through two world wars where tens of millions of people perished. Our generation is paranoid about terrorist attacks in which tens or hundreds of lives are at risk. wonders if the wheel will ever turn again towards a more tolerant and liberal society.

Caring fulfillment

Catherine Fox, in this month’s BOSS magazine reviews Anne Manne’s book Motherhood.
I’m saddened by her undoubtably accurate observation:

I’m happy to agree with Manne’s conclusion that our obsession with work has gone too far – after all, I co-wrote a book with [BOSS editor] Helen Trinca about this addiction, Better than Sex: How a whole generation got hooked on work, which she cites.

But part of our thesis was that paid work had become the public stage in modern democracies and women wanted a chance to have a role in that forum and ideally to change the workplace too.

It’s just a bit convenient to argue that caring work, which is admirable, can be as fulfilling as some of the jobs well educated women now have access to [my emphasis] – it’s not just men who use work to justify “absence from family obligations”.

It’s no doubt a true observation, but it’s sad. There must be a way in which we can learn to value caring work while allowing both women and men to find fulfillment in all the work they do.

The right place, the right time, the right outcome

I have had several conversations lately regarding the loneliness of leadership. Most of these have involved people struggling to get a new business idea off the ground. You look around and you see new, seemingly successful businesses springing up everywhere. Quite often you read about someone having an idea, trying it out and everything falls into place straight away.
We all dream of that outcome. We all want it to be that easy. But for every success story like this there are hundreds where it is just years of hard slog. Sometimes it is because the business idea is nuts. It has no chance of being successful. But often, the idea is exceptional. The person has boundless enthusiasm and seems to be doing all the right things. But growth is painstakingly slow.
That is one of the fundamental principles of what we call “Quantum Leadership”. You can put all the right parameters in place but you can’t guarantee the result you want. But if you keep putting yourself in different places and different perspectives, the “right” result will come. You can’t predict what the right result will be but when it comes, you will know it is right.
For some people, the right result comes after the first toss of the coin. They are just plain lucky. For most of us it is a hard slog over many years. But if we believe in the process, the right result will come if you are prepared to wait for it.

A – E ranking is a fail

The Australian federal education minister, Brendan Nelson has embarked on an exercise in populist political power by demanding all schools in Australia issue reports ranking students against their class mates.
There is no doubt parents find it hard to understand reports based on multiple competencies. They come back and ask “Is my child doing well or not?” Just give me a sinlge score.

Read more

Boys, oh Boys will we ever learn?

Tracee Hutchinson writing in The Age last Saturday (Infidelity is just not cricket, Shane) rightly points out that Australian criketer Shane Warne’s off field behaviour has seriously affected many womens’ ability to enjoy the games in which he is involved. Hutchinson richly describes how Warne typifies the architypal male and how his behaviour strikes at the very heart of the relationship between men and women. In this way Warne’s actions remind many woman of the betrayal of trust they have felt in their relationships with men like him and the fundamental fragility in relationship that, she argues, most women feel.
It’s not just women, however, who find their enjoyment of cricket tainted as long as this attitude to women and relationship goes without sanction. Many of we men also find it repugnant. We seek to build long term relationships built on trust and understand the privilege of emotional intimacy that we can receive in return. When others of our gender show such scant regard for these values as well as for their partners and children we feel pain too.
In line with our consistent stand against the disrespect shown for women by many ‘star’ sportsmen (cf Let’s never let it happen again), joins with Hutchinson in calling on the Australian Cricket Board to give us back a game we can be proud of. It must do this by demanding that its players demonstrate they understand that women are not just sexual playthings and that treating them so demeans all women.