One of the first things that struck me about Peter was to hear him, in one talk, comment on the irrelevance of economics and then proceed to make a presentation that was solidly grounded in the application of economic principles. Eventually I came to understand that Peter’s negative comments on economics were narrowly focused on formal economic theory and modeling, much of which, because it strips away important behavioral assumptions, does not say much that is of interest to practice.
In my experience, Peter always was able to combine the most central micro- and macro-economic principles with dispassionate observations of both groups and individuals to extract simple truths and insightful predictions - the kinds of things about which it sometimes is noted, “It’s obvious… once you think of it.” The focus of his insights could be almost anything, from the implications of shifting worldwide populations, to major cultural shifts, to how to effectively motivate employees to accomplish organizational objectives. Once the logic and evidence that supported one of Peter’s forecasts were laid out, a reaction that I heard on many occasions was, “I never thought of it in that way before, but looking at it in that way, the implications are clear.” While he was not always right, he usually was; and even when he was not, his perspective changed the way people thought about the issues he was addressing.
So, to me the Drucker Legacy involves the ability to combine the application fundamental economic principles with the ability to perceive important issues before they are recognized by others, to help others to recognize the importance of the issues; to draw from broad experience to extract simple truths, and to take the risk of not always being right. It seems to me that the Drucker School and CGU already are well positioned to carry on the legacy. Such structural choices as the lack of departmentalization in Drucker, and CGU’s emphasis on transdisciplinarity are useful platforms upon which to build. The challenge, I believe, is to nurture cross-fertilization with respect to both issue identification and analysis.
In the context of May 12, we might try to launch this process by forming discussion groups that represent diverse perspectives (including faculty from all of CGU) and asking them, for example, to identify the three or five most critical issues of the next decade and to support their conclusionsfrom all of the perspectives that are represented in the group.