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Tom Gladwin begins by introducing Peter F. Drucker and outlining the agenda and procedures for the symposium. He then hands the symposium over to Peter F. Drucker, who begins by identifying whom he considers to be the outstanding executive, namely, the person who built the first pyramid. The pyramids remain standing, so the basic things do not change, Drucker says, and that is important to highlight because there is a great deal of emphasis on things that change. The last period in which executives had to learn a great deal that was new was in the immediate post-WWII period. To begin, Drucker argues, the field of vision has to change in two ways. First, he observes that the focus tends to be on maintaining the inner system, so outside changes are presumed to go away, a faulty assumption. Forty years ago, executives assumed the outside had high stability, which was true, but in the nineties it is no longer true. The inside focus is therefore dangerous, and the competent executive of the future will have to learn how to organize working outside. The important thing is not the market research as much as it is the question of who should be the customers of an organization, but presently are not. Niche positions do not survive in an industry, as they always have two dangers. One is that the niche becomes mainstream, and the other is that the niche becomes obsolete. Nine out of ten American businesses will not go global--in fact, most are local, and becoming even a national business does not always result in success. The great majority of businesses, Drucker predicts, will remain local. He proceeds to caution that most employees in companies should try to avoid being sent overseas to work if they wish to be successful in an organization. Very few people in the top management positions at Fortune 500 companies have ever served overseas. It is mostly medium-sized companies--mostly single technology or single-product companies--that have exploded in the world market. Most of the largest organizations are downsizing, and have been since the 1960s. Alongside this development have been changes in the global economy, such as the growth of protectionism and social policy coming to dominate economic policy. In businesses, there is no fixed score, and so businesses operate through a restricted improvisation. Learning to take information responsibility--to take responsibility for what one should know and what knowledge one owes to others--is the most essential thing to learn over the next ten years in industry. Also, building organizational networks is very important. Increasingly, employees will have to think through their roles on assignments--who has to understand it, who has to know what to do. Additionally, employees must think of what they tell to whom and why. Last, the time to learn in organizations is not at the beginning, but mid-career--if employees do not learn at mid-career, they will lose the capacity to learn because the point will be reached where one cannot question what they are doing. Drucker stresses that relearning will have to be built back into the system by executives--this reform does not require that employees go back to school, but going to seminars or other types of programs where employees can reflect on their experiences is crucial.
Drucker, Peter F. (Peter Ferdinand), 1909-2005 New York University New York University. Graduate School of Business Administration Gladwin, Tom W., 1935- Symposia Pyramids World War II Postwar economic studies Postwar world Global economy and development Globalization Downsizing of organizations Protectionism Improvisation Information Information literacy Information organization Organizational Innovation Organizational behavior Organizational change Organization theory Continuing education Inside vs. outside system Niche market Global vs. local business Information responsibility Organizational networks
Original recording, April 26, 1990; Drucker Archives; Box 68