“Don’t ever try to learn from other people’s mistakes. Learn what other people do right.”
If I am anything, I am a Viking traveler of books and of life. So it is with Peter Drucker’s Adventures of a Bystander. I recently have been reading and rereading his delightful non-autobiography, autobiography. According to Drucker, this is his readers’ favorite of all his books (29 by 1997). It is obvious why – he has a clear and entertaining style when describing some very interesting individuals, with his perspicacious and insightful analysis shining through. Drucker was a genius observer and chronicler of interesting individuals, and he was “pretty good” at understanding the broad themes of society too. He foresaw most of the 20th century societal themes before they happened.
Mastermind Rationals can be very keen observers of people, if that’s their main focus. More often than not, it is not.
I hadn’t noticed this for the longest of time because most of the Mastermind Rationals I knew in my travels were “science” types, like me, who concentrated on the physical world or the world of “ideas” not having to do with individual people. There is an arrogance and awkwardness with people – often the smarter and more knowledgeable these (typically male) Masterminds are -- the more awkward. Some Masterminds (not all) that I encountered during my science phase were very bright, but similar to the Architects, focused on taking their own unique (and powerful) method of analysis, hopping from one problem to another, solving them to their own satisfaction (and often their clients) as they go along. Everything you wanted to know, and didn’t want to ask about Kalman filters, Bayesian reasoning, yada yada, they would tell you if you asked. You can find and observe their behavior in the recruiting (job seeking) science seminars of the university, trying to get a tenured-track position. Of course, Isaac Newton is the poster child of this type of Mastermind – brilliant but very prickly – humbly arrogant. As my father put it – “They will not suffer fools gladly.”
When I switched from a “normal job” (luckily involuntarily), because of my father’s work I eventually started to meet more Masterminds that were people focused. Just recently I started to pay attention to Peter Drucker. His genius, yes -- he was a genius, has been as a prophet for the modern age, and now the post-modern age. He was the person who coined “knowledge worker,” long before it became evident. He foresaw mankind’s shift from a government based society to organization based societies. He did not predict the Internet; he was not a computer nerd like me, who was immersed in it so as to see it coming, knowing how it will affect everything, but nevertheless, I think he had it right again.
So I leave you with an excerpt of dialog recorded in 1996 in the Drucker Foundation’s book, Leader to Leader:
The Shape of Things to Come
Question: What will the organization of tomorrow and the executive of tomorrow look like?
Drucker: Perhaps this not one question but two, for the simple reason that the executive may change more that the organization does. Charles Handy predicts that by the year 2000, practically nobody in the United States or the United Kingdom will be an employee. I think that’s overreaching slightly. But the trend is clear: the employee society of organization is mutating. [My emphasis added]