Drucker on battle ready organizations and Europe

Peter Drucker placed special emphasis on implementation: culture eats strategy for breakfast; unless a plan turns into action, it is nothing but good intentions; it is not good intentions that move mountains but bulldozers; most meetings end up “murky”, obscure, nebulous, gloomy, with no one knowing who is going to do what, when and how.

In fact, no organization can go through its life without some crisis; but it can create a battle-ready culture, ready for all circumstances.

And for such Drucker recommended four things.

First, not putting the emphasis on human relations, friendliness, team playing as it is neither 1) nor necessary, nor 2) sufficient and 3) it is dangerous: with the exception of manners/education (which are the lubricant when two bodies touch to avoid friction) and character (which if lacking in someone who works alone is an inconvenience, but in a manager who commands others it is devastating).

It’s not necessary because all that a function requires are 3/4 critical qualities. In a customer service (complaints) office: patience, empathy, emotional stability to listen, listen and practical sense to separate outbursts from sources of opportunities to improve the service.

“Human relations” are also insufficient by themselves, since a person can have all the qualities in the world, but if he/she lacks the essential, he/she will be incompetent in his/her role.

And they are dangerous because they deviate from the essential: what are the critical capabilities for performance? To like routine tasks or to have a spirit of initiative? To have a spirit of detail or empathy? Etc.

Furthermore, if I hire out of sympathy, integration into the group, etc., not only do I run the risk by neglecting the critical success factors of the function of hiring incompetents, but also of practicing homosexual reproduction by hiring at my image and similarity. And consequently reduce diversity in the company, which is a source of wealth. In addition, falling into friendship and having friends in the company affects discernment, judgment (Alfred Sloan).

Secondly, in order to create a battle ready culture, given that what is important varies with the functions (fast-thinking in a consumer goods salesman, technical knowledge in an industrial machines salesman, among others), it is necessary to replace the search for good people, by the question: good for what function? good for what?

Third, in hiring instead of being obsessed with knowledge, one must remember the importance of a certain temperament, as most jobs in a company allow for a second-rate intellect but require a first-rate temperament.

And finally, instead of minimizing weaknesses, focus on strengths.

A telephone operator can have all the faults in the world (bad at math, bad at synthesizing, not knowing how to write, slow to understand concepts, suffering from dyslexia, cross-eyed, etc., etc.)  since she only needs to have four qualities to do an excellent job: 1) good voice; 2) sympathy; 3) quick to perform routine tasks; and 4) emotional stability (because she will deal with a little bit of everything throughout the day).

And as or whether you are introverted or extroverted. Endowed with a spirit of detail or global vision. Prudent or with a spirit of initiative. Or one likes to work alone or in a group. Etc. One cannot have the cake and eat it, there are no universal geniuses.

When Ben Gurion invited Einstein to be president of Israel he was (first) absolutely delighted and (then) devastated that he had to refuse.

Because after much reflection, he concluded that he lacked the qualities of 1) experience (in international affairs), 2) various skills (e.g. knowing how to conduct meetings) and 3) temperament (e.g. patience to deal with people).

Thus the question: is there any relation between the difference of the culture of USA and European organizations and the lack of competitiveness of Europe?

When the Marshall plan began european consultants came back from a study visit to the USA saying that the greatest difference was USA employees proactiveness.

More than half a century later, many USA managers consider Europe if not dead, at least dormant.

They would be certainly wrong if not for one fact: the USA GDP per capita is 1/3 above that of EU average. Why?

Article by Jorge Sá (MBA Drucker School / PhD Columbia University / Jean Monnet Chair)