Facing Reality: A Lesson from Drucker

by Michael Haberman on February 7, 2012 · 1 comment

One of my favorite books is The Daily Drucker. The February 2nd entry is entitled Facing Reality. It is taken from his book called Managing in Turbulent Times, published in 1993, the wisdom is still very sound. In this excerpt he makes the comment “To manage in turbulent times, therefore, means to face up to the new realities. It means starting with the question: ‘What is the world really like?’ rather than with the assertions and assumptions that made sense only a few years ago.”

That statement ties into my post from yesterday where I asserted that unemployed workers need to face the new realities of finding a job. The skills that they relied on five years ago are not the skills that will get them a job today. They need to upgrade their understanding and use of technology. They need to upgrade their education.

In the same vein we need leaders that are also facing reality and I am not sure they are, at least not to the level needed. Case in point. We have politicians of both political parties arguing for the “comeback” of manufacturing in order to make our country stronger, to return it to its glory days. Unfortunately that is not reality. Reality is that other countries, because of technology and labor force, are much better at making the “things” we all consume. The reality in the U.S., and in much of Europe, is that we make “ideas.” In order for us to continue to successfully make those “ideas” is for us to have an educated workforce.

According to Drucker:

“Today’s new realities fit neither the assumptions of the Left nor those of the Right. They don’t mesh with ‘what everybody knows.’ They differ even more from what everybody, regardless of political persuasion still believes reality to be. …The greatest and most dangerous turbulence today results from the collision between the delusions of the decision makers- whether in governments, in the top management of businesses or in union leadership- and the realities.”

These are very powerful words. I think Drucker should be required reading for all leaders, in particular political leaders. Solutions for the economy, solutions for unemployment, solutions for competitive stance in the world must come from facing reality and not looking to what worked in the past.

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