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Posts Tagged ‘The Age of Discontinuity’

We need a theory of economic dynamics in addition to the theory of equilibrium, which is all we have now.  We need a theoretical understanding of technological innovation as an economic event and its integration into economic theory and economic policy.  We need a model of the world economy and the domestic economy.  Finally we need a theory of microeconomic behaviour, that is, of the behavior of the actors — the “organisms” — of the economy.  For it is the microeconomy, in the end, that produces economic results, goods and services, jobs and incomes.
    —    Peter F. Drucker
From his book:  “The Age Of Discontinuity
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…In getting rid of yesterday.  But business does reasonably well in this area.  Businessmen are just as sentimental about yesterday as bureaucrats.  They are just as reluctant to abandon anything.  They are just as likely to respond to the failure of a product or program by doubling the efforts invested in it.  But they are, fortunately, unable to indulge freely in their predilections.  They stand under an objective discipline, the discipline of the market.  They have an objective outside measurement, profitability.  And so they are forced (much to their chagrin) to slough off the unsuccessful and unproductive sooner or later.
    —    Peter F. Drucker
From his book:  “The Age Of Discontinuity
[Actually, it is only when the marginal cost of continuing to do something is “far” greater than the cost of AND benefit from change that business will change.  Business executives continue obsolete products and processes because they “believe” the historical process and its costs are understood and, therefore, manageable.   —    KMAB]
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But there is one thing government cannot provide: the individual’s sense of achievement.
Yet this is the essential element of development.  What is needed in this world today is not primarily wealth.  It is vision.  It is the individual’s conviction that there is opportunity, energy, purpose to his society, rather than problems, inertia, and hopelessness.
  —  Peter F. Drucker
From his book:  “The Age Of Discontinuity
[It always comes back to HOPE and PRIDE.  —  KMAB]
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Yesterday, I finished “The Age of Discontinuity” by Peter F. Drucker (1969©).  This book took me almost two months to complete because it is so overwhelming.  I found I could only read a few dozen pages at most before I had to stop, pause and think about what Drucker was saying.  It is almost literally one of Bacon’s few books “to be chewed and digested.”
It’s important to remember this work was penned in the late 1960’s!!  Yet, it is as fresh and descriptive today as if Drucker is sitting across a table discussing modern history with you (me).
The book seeks to review (and examine) four main “discontinuities” in our civilization: new technology, the world’s economy, the “political matrix of social and economic life”, and (most importantly) changes in knowledge (and their effects on teaching, learning, labor, work and politics).
Here is a sampling of quotes to illustrate the power of his ideas: (on American pluralism) – …a pluralist society guarantees freedom from domination by any single group.  …  In fact, the danger in pluralism, as history teaches, is not domination by this or that interest group; it is collapse into indecision and into a stalemate of competing “countervailing powers.”
(On knowledge) – This demand, in turn reflects the basic fact that knowledge has become productive.  The systematic and purposeful acquisition of information and its systematic application, rather than “science” or “technology,” are emerging as the new foundation for work, productivity, and effort throughout this world.  (Sounds like the prediction of the coming of Google!)
Knowledge work does not lead to a “disappearance of work.” …Knowledge work, like all productive work, creates its own demand.  And the demand is apparently unlimited.
(On educational and leadership testing) – No one test can possibly identify today who will be leadership material twenty years later.  For we do not and cannot know what will be needed twenty years hence.
My copy of this book is the hardbound version and roughly 400 pages.   I would estimate I have well over 50 side notes scribbled on the pages and probably a good quarter of the book hi-lighted.  This is certainly a work I will return to again – perhaps next time to try to swallow whole, but certainly to nibble away at again and again as its digestion helps me grow.
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