Putting the ideas of Peter F. Drucker to Work: Conversations that matter

Peter F. Drucker was one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. Many of today's realities he foresaw and helped to mold. His penetrating questions helped managers in institutions of all kinds and sizes see their work in a new perspective.

One of Drucker's most important contributions involved how to attract and grow knowledge workers. More specifically, he formulated principles and practices for making knowledge workers productive.

We all feel very indebted to Peter F. Drucker. And sincerely feel his incredible insights and prescriptions need frequent repetition and broad dissemination. The E-BIM/talent/training portal, among other things, will devote itself to this task.

We will do it differently than it ever has been done before. We will, first, present the essence of a Drucker insight. We, then, will then ask for relevant comments and successful applications from our readers.

Further, we will provide the appropriate linkages for those wishing to gain a more thorough and thoughtful understanding of the full complexity of some of Peter F. Drucker's seemingly simple pronouncements.

Drucker Insight: "opportunities for specialists in knowledge-based industries will be opportunities for advancement within the specialty, and for limited advancement at that...

Human Resources IQ Commentary: What does this really mean? Knowledge workers are specialists. Whether they work for a hospital or a magazine publisher, they tend to be expert in one specific skill set. Given today's flattened organizational structures, they really do not have much opportunity to become a department head. Back in 1988, Drucker gave the analogy of a modern orchestra. Everybody's a specialist with the exception of the conductor. Violinists, pianists, flutists, and the like can only advance within their specialty. At best, when they've gone as far as they can go with a given orchestra, they will attempt to trade up to what they perceive as a better orchestra.

This is the reality of the modern organization. Most organizations, properly viewed, are similar to the modern hospital. Doctors, X-ray technicians, physical therapists, lab technicians, nurses and so forth constitute the bulk of the modern hospital 's workforce. Mostly specialists. Relatively few managers.

FRAMING THE ISSUE FOR CONVERSATIONS THAT MATTER: We would like your comments relating to this Peter F. Drucker insight.

  • Is your organization formulating policies and practices with respect to attracting and retaining specialists with no clear-cut path into management?
  • Is your organization providing continuous learning and training to make sure specialists are kept up-to-date?
  • Is your organization redesigning its reward and compensations structure to accommodate today's new realities?