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Peter F. Drucker and Dale Zand symposium on human resource management, self-management, participatory management, matrix management, and the importance of trust
William D. Guth
Peter F. Drucker
Dale E. Zand
Date Created and/or Issued
Publication Information
The Drucker Institute
Contributing Institution
Claremont Colleges Library
Drucker Archives
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For permission to use this item, contact The Drucker Institute,
William Guth begins this portion of the symposium introducing Dale E. Zand and his particular background, and how his consulting relationships have been long-lived. Zand begins his talk discussing human resource management and what is meant by human resources. He clarifies that human resources refers to persons with the ability to think, learn, feel, do and communicate--a complex system. He then compares human resource personnel to Drucker’s bassoon metaphor, emphasizing how human resource specialists have been driven away from dealing with the individuality of people. Zand states that human resource management first occurs with the self, and predicts that by the year 2000 we will begin to recognize that the person who has the greatest interest in the management of human resources is the individual or the self, which is to say that humans have an interest in managing themselves as human resources. If people are asked what had the greatest effect on their personal development, most people answer that it is the remembrance of a particular manager or coworker whose way of thinking and method of learning with others turned out to be a powerful role model for them. Zand states that much of what goes on in human resource management is and will continue to be an attempt to complement, supplement, offset, and buffer what happens on the job. Participation became the new term for HR people, and the idea of participation became a good in itself. Knowledge work, Zand notes, exists in our heads, and is not readily accessible, so the great challenge for human resources is how to get knowledge from where it is to a place in which it can be used. People learn how to participate effectively when things are going well and problems are important but not overwhelming. Zand goes on to make plain that the time to learn about working with other people is while problems are still manageable and the rate of change is not overwhelming. According to Zand, managers who know how to work effectively must recognize how to work with both knowledge users and knowledge generators. He then emphasizes the importance of caring for and nurturing managers who are competent in working with human resources, who are often overlooked and neglected. Measuring knowledge output is a pertinent issue but remains down the line. More immediately necessary is identifying, encouraging, and developing competent human resource managers. Zand concludes his portion of the talk stating that one of the most difficult things to learn about human resource management is how the most valuable source of knowledge is in the questions people ask. He then cautions that people should not be too upset when control systems don’t work as well as they want them to work. There is a need, he says, for some opportunity for people to have questions asked. Learning how to deal with creative deviants without feeling threatened by their existence is an important part of management. Drucker then asks Zand about how to deal with participatory management, and Zand responds that the key to this kind of management is listening to subordinates. In response to an audience question concerning matrix management, Drucker responds that it is a concept that cannot be organized, so people must be appealed to in order to use their own best efforts to keep things going. He goes on to say that, in large organizations, there is no other method but matrix management. Putting organizational responsibility on everyone is the essence of matrix management--it pretends to have a structure but, really, has none. Responding to a second question, Zand states that our brains fundamentally function in an all-connected network, in which the brain selects a series of links and connections which are most functional for the kind of problem that needs to be dealt with. The question becomes how people are going to use such connections in an all-connected network, and if trust, the lynchpin of the matrix system, is present in the relationships. An organization in which people say that it is dangerous to disagree with others and to raise questions about different ways of doing things is an organization that has difficulty dealing with conflict, and is therefore operating under a low-trust system. He stresses that organizational tools and strategies in a business are useful, but that one has to prepare an organization to use them.
Drucker, Peter F. (Peter Ferdinand), 1909-2005
New York University
New York University. Graduate School of Business Administration
Management by objectives
Role models
Knowledge and learning
Knowledge workers
Matrix management
Conflict management
Human resource management
Job restructuring
Output standards
Business Competition
Self-management by employees
Participatory management
Original recording, April 29, 1987; Drucker Archives; Box 68
Drucker Archives -

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