The Manager and The Moron

Peter Drucker, the legendary management educator and consultant, wrote an article in 1967 where he looked into the future of business and working life. Nearly 50 years ago, he predicted challenges we face even today. Specifically he talks of the place of young workers, computers and information, and the rise of the knowledge worker. Amazing insight.

By the way, the moron is the computer beginning to find its place in business circa 1967. “The computer is a moron. And the stupider the tool, the brighter the master must be.”  I laugh a bit on this insight … not sure how well we are doing here.

The full article is a worthy read. Here is the link to the article at McKinsey & Company.

Some highlights …

“Our ancestors put skills on top of physical labor. And now—a second revolution—we’ve put knowledge on top of both. Not as a substitute for skill, but as a whole new dimension. Skill alone won’t do it anymore.”

“Another implication flows from the creation of this new knowledge resource. The new generation of managers, those now aged 35 or under, is the first generation that thinks in terms of putting knowledge to work before one has accumulated a decade or two of experience. Mine was the last generation of managers who measured their value entirely by experience.”

“Like it or not, we are going to have to promote people we wouldn’t have thought old enough, a few years ago, to find their way to the water cooler. Companies must learn to stop replacing the 65-year-old man with the 59-year-old. They must seek out their good 35-year-olds.”

“Technically there is no reason why Sears, Roebuck could not offer tomorrow, for the price of a television set, a plug-in appliance that would put us in direct contact with all the information needed for schoolwork from kindergarten through college.”

 “A change as tremendous as this [computers and information access] doesn’t just satisfy existing wants, or replace things we are now doing. It creates new wants and makes new things possible.”

“This is why the manager should use the computer to control the routines of business, so that he himself can spend ten minutes a day controlling instead of five hours. Then he can use the rest of his time to think about the important things he cannot really know—people and environment. These are things he cannot define; he has to take the time to go and look. The failure to go out and look is what accounts for most of our managerial mistakes today.”

Written in 1967. Forethought, awareness and vision.  Good stuff.

Where are we now going? Look forward 50 years and what do you see for business, information and how we organize?

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