What Would Drucker Ask?

Posted 10.31.2008

DruckerThese uncertain times create a yearning for answers.  It’s why, on the political front, we’re missing Tim Russert this week and, on the business leadership front, we miss Peter Drucker.  The wonderful thing about Drucker was that he wrote so much in his long career that still holds up today.  If you go back and look at his work, a lot of it isn’t so much in the answers as in the questions he asked.

The other day, The Wall Street Journal re-ran a 1992 article by Drucker, Planning for Uncertainty.  In it, he asked some great questions which you, as a leader, should consider. Here are a few:

  • Traditional planning asks, "What is most likely to happen?" Planning for uncertainty asks, "What has already happened that will create the future?"
  • When they look at demographics, business people need to ask: "What do these accomplished facts mean for our business? What opportunities do they create? What threats? What changes do they demand — in the way the business is organized and run, in our goals, in our products, in our services, in our policies? And what changes do they make possible and likely to be advantageous?"
  • What changes in industry and market structure, in basic values, and in science and technology have already occurred but have yet to have full impact?
  • What are the trends in economic and societal structure? And how do they affect our business?
  • What challenges — to a company's policies, products, markets, goals — do such changes present? What opportunities?
  • What is this company good at? What does it do well? What strengths give it a competitive edge? Applied to what?