So coincidentally, I found that my American-style of thinking does suggest why I can’t take a story about Drucker’s style of management, written for a 21st century audience, seriously. It even doesn’t imply anything about cynicism for Americans (Are we more cynical? I have no idea).
Forbes columnist and econ writer (among other things) Steve Denning wrote the other day (hey thanks JP) about some book that I didn’t read, but I went away with his highlight on some of the challenges facing the American economy in the new century. Among them, chiefly, is one about management. You can read his blog post here. And you should, because I’m going to quote it right here:
Over the last couple of decades, there has been an epochal shift in the balance of power from seller to buyer. For the first two-thirds of the 20th Century, oligopolies were in charge of the marketplace. These companies were successful by pushing products at customers, and manufacturing demand through advertising. But this situation changed.
Today customers have instant access to reliable information and have options: they can choose firms who delight them and avoid companies whose principal objective is taking money from our wallets and putting in their own. The result is a fundamental shift in power in the marketplace from the seller to the buyer: not only do customers not appreciate being treated as “demand” to be manufactured: now they can do something about it. If they are not delighted, they can and do go elsewhere.
The second is a fundamental shift in the workplace where the nature of work has shifted from semi-skilled to knowledge work. Meeting the business imperative of delighting customers can only be accomplished if the knowledge workers contribute their full talents and energy to contribute continuous innovation. Treating employees as “human resources” to be manipulated undermines the workforce commitment that is needed.
As a result, the 20th Century management system—the goose that laid America’s golden egg—stopped delivering. The monumental study by Deloitte’s Center for the Edge shows that the rate of return on assets of US companies is one quarter of what it was in 1965; the life expectancy of firms in the Fortune 500 has fallen from around 75 years half a century ago to just 15 years today and is falling fast. Only one in five employees is fully engaged in his or her work. And a study by the Kauffman Foundation showed that firms older than five years produced almost no net new jobs in the period 1980 to 2005 (whereas firms younger than 5 years created around 40 million jobs in that period.)
And right after that, Denning starts a section with this title.
The world changed but management didn’t[.]
Drucker’s landmark book was published 1973. It was the pinnacle of 20th century economic power indeed.
If you recall, some basic and fundamental key concepts are used in Moshidora as chapter heading. The two I want to highlight are “customer” and “innovation.” And maybe the whole thing about result-oriented view of measuring success. Those terms and concepts still mean the same thing in Moshidora as it does in Denning’s blog post. I believe those fundamental concepts introduced in Moshidora are the most valuable things it offered in the way of teaching management. But the way how Minami transformed Kodobuko’s baseball team is a classic sort of thing that today’s marketplace leaders of America (ie, people whose companies with RESULTS) do not do.
When I saw it, I was like, hurrrrrrr. Maybe we should just go back to DRRR and understand how someone like Mikado transforms and apply his human resources. Because that is the way of the future. Or the present. And the way of Moshidora is like “oh Japan, you’re so post-war.” I guess I am more a victim of exposure to random management ideas and not so much a sound schooling of the classics ideas of management. But what good is the classics if what’s happening to Japan’s economy is any demonstration of the results of that line of thought? Besides, if I was teaching kids on how to manage a baseball team, I wouldn’t try to teach them managements concepts, I would teach them the value of cyclic innovation and the benefits of empowering autonomous, small groups. The rest will come naturally.