Drucker On Training & Management Development

“The world knows he was the greatest management thinker of the last century,” Jack Welch, former chairman of General Electric Co., said after Peter F. Drucker’s death in 2005.

Management guru Tom Peters, among many others, said “he was the creator and inventor of modern management.”

In short, Drucker’s name is synonymous with management. His writings consistently offer rich insights served up in a soufflé of good style. Slightly paraphrasing Harvard’s Ted Levitt: “Drucker always discovered, understood, and clarified more about any subject he studied than most people who spent a lifetime on that subject…”

Drucker’s Focus on the Challenge of Developing People

Education and training were arguably the most pervasive of Peter F. Drucker’s multiple intellectual interests.

Drucker had an intense interest in management development, developing people, and building continuous learning into the job of the knowledge worker. Therefore, it is surprising he never wrote a major treatise on these highly intertwined subjects.

We Value Your Feedback

Hopefully, you will provide us with your tips, compliments, and complaints on Part I, so we will know how we can improve parts II, III and IV prior to release.

The articles selected have a common theme, despite their diversity. They all deal with the question: What do training executives need to know to better design, develop, integrate, and implement more effective learning programs?

Drucker’s profound insights can guide all of us in developing people with an emphasis on their contribution to performance and results.

To ever so slightly paraphrase Joseph A. Maciariello (one of the world’s foremost expert on Drucker’s teachings): “… Drucker brought into focus…beyond getting the right things done through others… the need for understanding the responsibility for what is happening to the people in the process — who they are becoming and how the work environment is contributing to their growth and development…”

A significant percentage of the subject matter contained in part I is discussed in a variety of forms in our forthcoming Corporate Learning Week 2014. (Link to online brochure)

Leading practitioners examine and illustrate many of the learning & development practices originally formulated by Drucker to meet the new demands on the individual employee in the knowledge society.

Get Ready. Get Set. Grow

We believe you are going to love this e- book. It is not a “fad” book; it is a “fact” book — full of truths, concepts, and thought processes that are timeless and actionable.

We believe it can/will change the way you view the role and mission of your internal training organization.

Today’s knowledge-based workforce are becoming the largest single group… and have already become the major creator of corporate wealth. Increasingly the success, indeed the survival of every business will depend on the performance of its knowledge workforce.

What does this mean? Workforce training, constant retraining and continuous learning activities must climb to the top of the agenda of the individual firm and the nation.

More than ever before, internal training organizations must prepare its workforce for a rapidly arriving and disruptive future. Drucker’s teachings form a blueprint for every thinking leader.

The true objective of many of Drucker’s principles and practices is to take chaos and uncertainties as givens and convert them from problems into opportunities.

Meet with Representatives From the Drucker School of Management

We hope to see you at our Corporate Learning Week 2014 conference. The program is chock-full of employee development strategies & tactics offered that will help your internal training organization become more strategy supportive… and develop learning programs that produce performance and results on the corporate battlefield.

You’ll discover from a host of solution providers new approaches for delivering productivity boosting learning programs that have great impact on attracting and holding a knowledge-based workforce.

Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to talk with representatives from the Drucker Graduate School of Management. You’ll learn first-hand how to potentially integrate Drucker’s astonishing methodologies into your management/leadership development programs.

Peter F. Drucker’s effective leadership model provides a set of leadership practices that can be taught, learned, and practiced. It’s a great opportunity to discover ways to augment existing learning programs… and update your agenda for developing talent management strategies.

Chapter 1

The Difference Between Training and Education: Rediscovering Training Fundamentals From Pocket Billiards

Chapter 1 Part I: Drucker on Learning for Performance & Results

Editor’s Note: In today’s fast-paced business environment, it’s easy to overlook the importance of three learning essentials: 1) there is a difference between training and education; 2.) training requires mentorship expertise and; 3.) continuous learning and knowledge sharing are an integral part of the training process.

We illustrate the learning essentials through the anecdote of a colleague who became an avid billiards player, first as a self taught novice and then instructed from one of the sport’s top players.

If you’re a pocket billiards enthusiast, you’ll relate to this story.

Several years ago, a co-worker purchased a top-of-the-line Gold Crown III pool table, a dozen or more instructional videotapes, how-to books and dvd’s that enabled him to simulate playing a world-class professional.

He viewed, studied and carefully practiced what he learned. Pocket billiards (i.e., pool) is a game that can be played equally well alone or competitively. He learned the fundamentals and his level of play improved, but most of his playing was confined to nightly practice sessions in his basement.

Then, one day, he ventured into a New York City billiard establishment populated by the world’s top-ranked professionals. Men and women of all ages were competing in tournaments.

Some were actively engaged in professionally taught clinics designed to improve playing ability. Others — mostly prosperous Wall Street types — were busily engaged in one-on-one instructional sessions with worldchampions-turned instructors.

In one defining moment, he realized he was an inferior player compared to those he viewed as worthy opponents. He was amazed at the playing ability of those fortunate enough to afford weekly private lessons.

Prior to witnessing all of this, he thought he had progressed and was satisfied with the skills he possessed. Now he knew he had wasted a great deal of time and was not equipped to play competitively against those he would have thought (in his basement, practicing alone) he would unmercifully defeat.

But that’s not all. He also discovered that many of the players were students of the game. They shared “secrets” and newly acquired knowledge, such as making recurrent kinds of rail shots, determining the exact path of the cue ball after contacting the object ball, and using the overhead billiard lighting fixture to determine the exact aiming point. None of these “finer points” could to be found in any of the printed or visual materials purchased by our friend.

So he secured an expensive two-hour lesson from the then-12thranked player in the world, who was an accomplished instructor and a marvelous diagnostician. His verdict? Our friend’s skills were deficient — he stunk — and in the process of self-instruction, our friend developed many bad habits.

He jumped up too quickly and thereby deflected his aim, which meant he missed a lot. He had not acquired the habit of a full backstroke accompanied by a complete follow-through, which meant his stroke was choppy.

The champion player and expert instructor also said: “You understand very little about the basic skill sets that must be mastered before anything else. Self-development is great, and all learning relies on self-development. But, you need the watchful eye of an instructor to make sure there’s no slippage.”

Our friend, an Ivy-leaguer, decided to engage his instructor for a series of expensive lessons. The instructor corrected, mentored, coached, demonstrated and provided take-home lessons. As predicted, slippage always occurred and more coaching was required to make the lessons taught become firmly ingrained habits.

A Rude Awakening

Initially, our friend was near-certain he could master the game. Why? Because he thought he had the natural attributes reflected by past academic achievements. Granted, he had promise, that is, potential. But the key to success in pocket billiards as in any skill-based sport is practice.

He noted that a lot of the Wall Street types, obviously quite brilliant, never learned the fundamental lesson that brilliance was usually irrelevant in terms of behavioral learning development. In other words, they didn’t practice. He also observed that “the less brilliant” achieved uncommon performance through practice.

Finally, he understood — in very practical terms — what learning experts have been claiming for decades. That is, the achievement of sophisticated skills involves relentless taskmasters. They demand from the individual a high level of commitment, immense concentration, and continual practice with each ascending plateau.

Seasoned performers in any sophisticated skill realize they grow according to the levels of achievement attained once they reach a certain stage. They understand that learning really begins anew with each addition to the repertoire.

This sense of incessant achievement and reinforcement through the self-discipline of practice is perhaps the real secret of motivation.

Lessons learned

This story is given in such detail because it illustrates three easily forgotten learning essentials: 1) there is a difference between training and education; 2.) training requires instructor expertise and; 3.) continuous learning and knowledge sharing are an integral part of the training process.

1 There is a difference between training and education. Training, unlike education, requires coaching, mentoring, performance consulting and “learn-by-doing” activities.

Simply put, the difference between education and training is like the difference between taking a music appreciation course and spending years learning how to play a musical instrument.

Many of today’s “training courses” — whether in e-learning form, instructor-led or a mixture of instructional methodologies — are not really training courses. They are lecture and reading programs. The development process will always have disastrous results if the role of behavioral learning is neglected.

Training requires drill, repetition, and constant feedback. Most good teachers/lecturers are brilliant synthesizers who are capable of organizing a complex subject into a meaningful pattern. They’re also capable of engrossing their audience with dramatic wit and sparkling examples.

The lecture method is a valid technique in the hands of skilled practitioners. But the lecture method is at best only a preparation for learning and is not learning itself. In too many instances the information goes from the instructor’s mouth into the employee’s notebook without going into his/her head. Similarly, reading is not the same thing as doing.

Action learning, today’s newest term for training, rests on the old Chinese proverb: “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.” Training requires doing. Yet there is “watch out” associated with learning from practical experience or just doing.

If practicing a craft with 30 years of professional experience essentially involves doing the same thing over and over, it probably means that the person has never gone beyond the behavioral dimension of learning. There is a difference between 30 years experience and one year’s experience 30 times.

Learning theorists have a fancy term for the component of learning that spurs learning to a higher level. It’s called “cognitive learning.” Cognitive learning supplies the role of vision in the development process. In effect, it incorporates insights into behavioral practice, thereby distinguishing the master professional from the pedestrian performer. The key point: many so-called training programs are really education programs.

2 Training requires mentorship expertise. Applying the principles of pocket billiards requires the services of a live instructor.

For example, knowing where to strike the cue ball does not mean students actually strike the cue ball at the designated point. The mechanics of aiming — striking the cue ball at its exact center and dozens of other critical-to-success factors — must be mastered to successfully apply theoretical knowledge.

Our point? Getting an “A” in a web-based training program is next to meaningless if the program is not related to specific internal business processes and if the correct way to apply what was learned or taught is not firmly established.

Slippage in learned skills almost always occurs when first learning a new subject. If the subject is important — whether it be in safety management, quality management, project management, or collecting and analyzing Web data — the learning program must constantly diagnose “fast forgetting” and reinforce what was previously taught.

Real skill acquisition, after all is said and done, requires showing, doing, correcting, practicing and customizing. This is best done by real on-site experts.

3 Continuous learning and knowledge sharing are an integral part of the training process. The need for continuous learning and knowledge sharing, designed for specialists and/ or individuals trained to do a given job, is rapidly becoming understood by training groups.

Continuous learning does not replace formal training. It has different aims and satisfies different needs.The billiard parlor utilized the teaching services of many top-notch instructors. To be sure, individual instructors did not share their teaching methods with other instructors. But students, eager to win tournaments, asked other instructors and their students specific questions related to improving their own performance.

Students of the game happily shared “best kept secrets” with others about solving specific playing problems. Continuous exposure to the experiences, problems and solutions of others produced remarkable gains in the performance capacity of most players/students affiliated with the billiard parlor.

In all likelihood, the management of this billiard establishment did little to create a “learning group.” But, at least, they did not discourage its emergence.

Internal training organizations would be well advised to create formal and informal online learning groups in subjects such as project planning, scheduling and control, maintenance management, integrated supply chain management, quality control and other formal methodologies requiring continuing improvement in employee skills and knowledge.

Summary and Conclusions

Training groups must take a high view of their function, set high standards for their objectives and accept the notion that there is a difference among training programs, education courses, and continuous learning.

Whatever deterioration there has been in the quality of employee training has resulted from the acts of senior management and internal training groups.

If senior management puts an emphasis on minimizing training cost per employee and refuses to take the purpose of the training seriously, in the final analysis, their actions ultimately will bring about a conscious downgrading of expectations.

Chapter 2

Will the MBA Degree Become Less Valuable in the Near-Future?

Chapter 2 Part I: Drucker on Learning for Performance & Results

Every major business publication, in the recent past, has featured articles on the importance of an MBA degree. Business schools have become a thriving growth industry. Of late, many have contended that the university has become a credential cartel controlling the rights of entrance into the job market. Further, many are beginning to question the value of an MBA.

Typical criticisms claim that the traditional MBA curriculum ill-serves and ill-prepares the student because of its transparent neglect of the requirements of the business practitioner. According to critics, doing well in an MBA program at best shows the student’s promise for performance.

Peter F. Drucker once commented, “In the academic disciplines a student cannot perform…he or she can only show promise…”He extended this observation by asserting there was no correlation between academic tests and actual performance on the corporate battlefield.

Doing well on tests only proves you can take tests. It often happens that the promising “A” student turns out to be a mediocrity. On the other hand, the “C” student sometimes turns out to be a star performer because of his/her ability to concentrate on the task and get things done.

The popular methodologies of case studies, business games, simulations and the like are often so remote from the world of decision making that Drucker equated them with going to war with toys.

Quite frankly, we believe undergraduate and graduate business schools are poor surrogates for the substantial challenges found in the real world of decision making.

It should be mentioned — indeed, emphasized — the hard-core business specialties (accounting, finance, statistics, taxation, computer science, etc.) in the curriculum, at least, provide the benefit of a solid foundation of knowledge competency, assuming the individual is willing to take responsibility for learning after graduation.

Misdirected Faculty Contribution

John Flaherty, a true Drucker scholar and synthesizer, revealed in an unpublished manuscript Drucker’s criticism of the role of business school faculty. Interestingly, Flaherty shows Drucker’s intense interest in the field of medicine, and why and how throughout its history it has been intertwined with the feature of professional practice. According to Flaherty:

“One of the lessons Drucker learned from his study of medical diagnosis was the principle that one never argues with results.

Drucker ascribed a good deal of the university’s failure to deliver the goods, in the way of meaningful results, to the misdirected focus and the composition of the faculty. He specifically faulted academic preparation for business on two counts — the excessive concern with theoretical concepts and undue emphasis on tools and techniques. Particularly incomprehensible to Drucker was how academics addressed theoretical concepts devoid of any concrete organizational experience.

Drucker further argued that academics imagine that a business career was a purely pristine activity apparently isolated from the pressure cooker travails of business life.

In order to dissuade them from this idyllic ‘Eden’ divorced from crises, tensions, turbulence and the uncertainties, “Drucker recommended and urged” that they take a lesson from the medical profession which through its internship and other training programs demanded that the practitioner gain experience by confronting operating realities… “


These timely Drucker observations ring true. For years, for-profit and non-profit organizations have been disappointed with the bulk of academic research and disappointed with the products of many MBA programs.

To be sure, there are a lot of good things being done. But the bulk of faculty member research and articles are adorned with a mixture of confusing graphs, lengthy footnotes and frightening mathematical equations that obscure relatively simple findings.

Someone once paraphrased the words of Winston Churchill when relating academic research in the field of business to the world of management practice, “Never have so many influenced so few.”

Again, many believe business schools do a reasonably good job with specialized subjects — perhaps the problem is they do too good a job. Instead of training more and better technicians, business school faculty should concern themselves with the education students are not getting.

Technicians But Not Managers

Instead of creating more building blocks of specialization, Drucker suggested that more attention be paid to conceptual thinking, multidisciplinary understanding and the challenge of managing change.

Instead of mindlessly adding more and more courses, it would be wiser to practice some systematic abandonment of obsolete subjects and then to derive a more purposeful and better designed curriculum.

Many business school graduates reflect their professors’ teachings. Drucker believed the typical MBA student — after being inundated with their school’s excessive emphasis on rationality — graduates with the false expectation that top management actually knows what it is doing.

It takes years of front-line experience to discover the realities of business differ from those presented in the classroom. For some, it is quite startling to learn that the quantification of the observable and measurable has its limits, particularly when confronted with complex phenomena.

Hopefully, the cliché “learning how to learn” is the most important skill derived from an MBA program.

Indeed, the single-most factor in making organizations unbeatable on the corporate battlefield will be the ability of their people to constantly learn new and different things and successfully integrate them into daily practice.

The Real Benefits of an MBA Degree

Perhaps it is best to view a business degree as a preparation for learning. But not for learning itself.

Then again, the right curriculum targeted to the right people (experienced executives/managers) can be a marvelous experience. Mature individuals are more responsive to theoretical concepts that enable them to organize their past experiences and have the savvy to evaluate the usefulness of what is being taught.

Continuing Education Combined with Battlefield Experience

Designing the right curriculum is not so easy. An executive who needs to read and interpret a balance sheet, an income statement, and a cash flow analysis can acquire these all important skills in a short course or seminar.

Similarly, they can learn project management, statistical analysis, purchasing management and dozens of other subjects by attending systematic, well-organized learning programs offered by universities and for-profit organizations.

As continuing education advances, we can expect it to collide with advanced degree granting programs. The integration of school and work in many ways negates the need for an advanced business degree.

Of course, this is not a particularly new insight. Approximately 50 years ago Drucker used the theme of balancing continuity with change to write one of the great books of the 20th century, Landmarks of Tomorrow.

And his point that in an age when continuing education of practicing professionals becomes the norm, the question, “What’s school for?” will have to be addressed.

Chapter 3

Things to Learn About Revitalizing Yourself: Seven Personal Stories from Peter Drucker

Chapter 3 Part I: Drucker on Learning for Performance & Results

Editor’s Note: In times like these we tend to turn to the great leadership sages for inspiration, and to revitalize our spirit and belief in the power of true authentic leadership.

Peter F. Drucker has no equal for providing us with enduring wisdom, principles and practices on how to grow, to change, and to age without losing our effectiveness.

Drucker attempted to answer the question: How can people remain effective over long periods of years, over periods of change, over years of work, and over years of living?

The following Drucker essay details seven experiences that provided him with direction, method and purpose with respect to remaining capable of achieving continuous growth, purposeful change — and graceful aging without becoming a prisoner of the past.

The seven experiences for revitalizing oneself was originally published in Drucker On Asia (first published in Japan in 1995 and then in the UK in 1997).

Revitalizing Oneself — Seven Personal Experiences by Peter F. Drucker


I was not yet 18 when, having finished high school, I left my native Vienna and went to Hamburg as a trainee in a cotton-export firm. My father was not very happy.

Ours had been a family of civil servants, professors, lawyers, and physicians for a very long time. He therefore wanted me to be a full-time university student, but I was tired of being a schoolboy and wanted to go to work.

To appease my father, but without any serious intention, I enrolled at Hamburg University in the law faculty. In those remote days — the year was 1927 — one did not have to attend classes to be a perfectly proper university student.

All one had to do to obtain a university degree was to pay a small annual fee and show up for an exam at the end of four years.

THE FIRST EXPERIENCE: Goal And Vision Taught By Verdi

The work at the export firm was terribly boring, and I learned very little. Work began at 7:30 in the morning and was over at 4 in the afternoon on weekdays and at noon on Saturdays. So I had lots of free time. Once a week I went to the opera.

On one of those evenings I went to hear an opera by the great 19thcentury Italian composer, Giuseppe Verdi — the last opera he wrote, Falstaff. It has now become one of Verdi’s most popular operas, but it was rarely performed then.

Both singers and audiences thought it too difficult. I was totally overwhelmed by it. Although I had heard a great many operas, I had never heard anything like that. I have never forgotten the impression that evening made on me.

When I made a study, I found that this opera, with its gaiety, its zest for life, and its incredible vitality, was written by a man of 80! To me 80 was an incredible age.

Then I read what Verdi himself had written when he was asked why, at that age, when he was already a famous man and considered one of the foremost opera composers of his century, he had taken on the hard work of writing one more opera, and an exceedingly demanding one.

“All my life as a musician,” he wrote, “I have striven for perfection. It has always eluded me. I surely had an obligation to make one more try.”

I have never forgotten those words — they made an indelible impression on me. When he was 18, Verdi was already a seasoned musician.

I had no idea what I would become, except that I knew by that time that I was unlikely to be a success exporting cotton textiles. But I resolved that whatever my life’s work would be, Verdi’s words would be my lodestar.

I resolved that if I ever reached an advanced age, I would not give up but would keep on. In the meantime I would strive for perfection, even though, as I well knew, it would surely always elude me.

THE SECOND EXPERIENCE: “The Gods can see them” — Taught by Phidias

It was at about this same time, and also in Hamburg during my stay as a trainee, that I read a story that conveyed to me what perfection means. It is a story of the greatest sculptor of ancient Greece, Phidias.

He was commissioned around 440 BC to make the statues that to this day stand on the roof of the Parthenon in Athens.

They are considered among the greatest sculptures of the Western tradition, but when Phidias submitted his bill, the city accountant of Athens refused to pay it.

“These statues,” the accountant said, “stand on the roof of the temple, and on the highest hill in Athens. Nobody can see anything but their fronts. Yet you have charged us for sculpting them in the round — that is, for doing their back sides, which nobody can see.”

“You are wrong,” Phidias retorted. “The gods can see them.”

I read this, as I remember, shortly after I had listened to Falstaff, and it hit me hard. I have not always lived up to it. I have done many things that I hope the gods will not notice, but I have always known that one has to strive for perfection even if only the gods notice.

THE THIRD EXPERIENCE: Continuous Learning- Decision as a Journalist

A few years later I moved to Frankfurt. I worked first as a trainee in a brokerage firm. Then, after the New York stock-market crash, in October 1929, when the brokerage firm went bankrupt, I was hired on my 20th birthday by Frankfurt’s largest newspaper as a financial and foreign-affairs writer.

I continued to be enrolled as a law student at the university because in those days one could easily transfer from one European university to any other. I still was not interested in the law, but I remembered the lessons of Verdi and of Phidias.

A journalist has to write about many subjects, so I decided I had to know something about many subjects to be at least a competent journalist.

The newspaper I worked for came out in the afternoon. We began work at 6 in the morning and finished by a quarter past 2 in the afternoon, when the last edition went to press. So I began to force myself to study afternoons and evenings: international relations and international law; the history of social and legal institutions; finance; and so on.

Gradually, I developed a system. I still adhere to it. Every three or four years I pick a new subject. It may be Japanese art; it may be economics. Three years of study are by no means enough to master a subject, but they are enough to understand it.

So for more than 60 years I have kept on studying one subject at a time. That not only has given me a substantial fund of knowledge. It has also forced me to be open to new disciplines and new approaches and new methods — for every one of the subjects I have studied makes different assumptions and employs a different methodology.

THE FOURTH EXPERIENCE: Reviewing –Taught by an Editor-in-Chief

The next experience to report in this story of keeping myself intellectually alive and growing is something that was taught by an editor-in-chief, one of Europe’s leading newspapermen.

The editorial staff at the newspaper consisted of very young people. At age 22, I became one of the three assistant managing editors. The reason was not that I was particularly good. In fact, I never became a first-rate daily journalist.

But in those years, around 1930, the people who should have held the kind of position I had — people age 35 or so — were not available in Europe. They had been killed in World War I. Even highly responsible positions had to be filled by young people like me.

The editor-in-chief, then around 50, took infinite pains to train and discipline his young crew. He discussed with each of us every week the work we had done. Twice a year, right after New Year’s and then again before summer vacations began in June, we would spend a Saturday afternoon and all of Sunday discussing our work over the preceding six months.

The editor would always start out with the things we had done well. Then he would proceed to the things we had tried to do well. Next he reviewed the things where we had not tried hard enough. And finally, he would subject us to a scathing critique of the things we had done badly or had failed to do.

The last two hours of that session would then serve as a projection of our work for the next six months: What were the things on which we should concentrate? What were the things we should improve? What were the things each of us needed to learn?

And a week later each of us was expected to submit to the editor-inchief our new program of work and learning for the next six months. I tremendously enjoyed the sessions, but I forgot them as soon as I left the paper.

Almost 10 years later, after I had come to the United States, I remembered them. It was in the early 1940s, after I had become a senior professor, started my own consulting practice, and begun to publish major books.

Since then I have set aside two weeks every summer in which to review my work during the preceding year, beginning with the things I did well but could or should have done better, down to the things I did poorly and the things I should have done but did not do. I decide what my priorities should be in my consulting work, in my writing, and in my teaching.

I have never once truly lived up to the plan I make each August, but it has forced me to live up to Verdi’s injunction to strive for perfection, even though “it has always eluded me” and still does.

THE FIFTH EXPERIENCE: What is necessary in a new position — Taught by a senior partner.

My next learning experience came a few years after my experience on the newspaper. From Frankfurt I moved to London in 1933, first working as a securities analyst in a large insurance company and then, a year later, moving to a small but fast-growing private bank as an economist and the executive secretary to the three senior partners.

One, the founder, was a man in his seventies; the two others were in their mid-thirties. At first I worked exclusively with the two younger men, but after I had been with the firm some three months or so, the founder called me into his office and said, “I didn’t think much of you when you came here and still don’t think much of you, but you are even more stupid than I thought you would be, and much more stupid than you have any right to be.”

Since the two younger partners had been praising me to the skies each day, I was dumbfounded. And then the old gentlemen said, “I understand you did very good securities analysis at the insurance company. But if we had wanted you to do securities-analysis work, we would have left you where you were.

You are now the executive secretary to the partners, yet you continue to do securities analysis. What should you be doing now, to be effective in your new job?” I was furious, but still I realized that the old man was right.

I totally changed my behavior and my work. Since then, when I have a new assignment, I ask myself the question, “What do I need to do, now that I have a new assignment, to be effective?” Every time, it is something different. Discovering what it is requires concentration on the things that are crucial to the new challenge, the new job, the new task.

THE SIXTH EXPERIENCE: Writing Down –Taught by the Jesuits and the Calvinists

Quite a few years later, around 1945, after I had moved from England to the United States in 1937, I picked for my three-year study subject early modern European history, especially the 15th and 16th centuries.

I found that two European institutions had become dominant forces in Europe: the Jesuit Order in the Catholic South and the Calvinist Church in the Protestant North. Both were founded independently in 1536. Both adopted the same learning discipline.

Whenever a Jesuit priest or a Calvinist pastor does anything of significance — making a key decision, for instance — he is expected to write down what results he anticipates. Nine months later, he traces back from the actual results to those anticipations.

That very soon shows him what he did well and what his strengths are. It also shows him what he has to learn and what habits he has to change. Finally, it shows him what he has no gift for and cannot do well.

I have followed that method for myself now for 50 years. It brings out what one’s strengths are — and that is the most important thing an individual can know about himself or herself. It brings out areas where improvement is needed and suggests what kind of improvement is needed.

Finally, it brings out things an individual cannot do and therefore should not even try to do. To know one’s strengths, to know how to improve them, and to know what one cannot do — they are the keys to continuous learning.

THE SEVENTH EXPERIENCE: What to be remembered for — Taught by Schumpeter

One more experience, and then I am through with the story of my personal development. At Christmas 1949, when I had just begun to teach management at New York University, my father, then 73 years old, came to visit us from California.

Right after New Year’s, on January 3, 1950, he and I went to visit an old friend of his, the famous economist Joseph Schumpeter.

My father had already retired, but Schumpeter, then 66 and world famous, was still teaching at Harvard and was very active as the president of the American Economic Association.

In 1902 my father was a very young civil servant in the Austrian Ministry of Finance, but he also did some teaching in economics at the university. Thus he had come to know Schumpeter, who was then, at age 19, the most brilliant of the young students.

Two more-different people are hard to imagine: Schumpeter was flamboyant, arrogant, abrasive, and vain; my father was quiet, the soul of courtesy, and modest to the point of being self-effacing. Still, the two became fast friends and remained fast friends.

By 1949 Schumpeter had become a very different person. In his last year of teaching at Harvard, he was at the peak of his fame. The two old men had a wonderful time together, reminiscing about the old days.

Suddenly, my father asked with a chuckle, “Joseph, do you still talk about what you want to be remembered for?” Schumpeter broke out in loud laughter.

For Schumpeter was notorious for having said, when he was 30 or so and had published the first two of his great economics books, that what he really wanted to be remembered for was having been “Europe’s greatest lover of beautiful women and Europe’s greatest horseman — and perhaps also the world’s greatest economist.”

Schumpeter said, “Yes, this question is still important to me, but I now answer it differently. I want to be remembered as having been the teacher who converted half a dozen brilliant students into first-rate economists.”

He must have seen an amazed look on my father’s face, because he continued, “You know, Adolph, I have now reached the age where I know that being remembered for books and theories is not enough. One does not make a difference unless it is a difference in the lives of people.”

One reason my father had gone to see Schumpeter was that it was known that the economist was very sick and would not live long. Schumpeter died five days after we visited him.

I have never forgotten that conversation. I learned from it three things: First, one has to ask oneself what one wants to be remembered for. Second, that should change. It should change both with one’s own maturity and with changes in the world.

Finally, one thing worth being remembered for is the difference one makes in the lives of people.

I am telling this long story for a simple reason. All the people I know who have managed to remain effective during a long life have learned pretty much the same things I learned.

That applies to effective business executives and to scholars, to top ranking military people and to first-rate physicians, to teachers and to artists.

Whenever I work with a person, I try to find out to what the individual attributes his or her success. I am invariably told stories that are remarkably like mine.

Chapter 4

L&D’s Role in Creating Corporate Wealth: Overcoming Training Myopia

Chapter 4 Part I: Drucker on Learning for Performance & Results

In 1954, Peter F. Drucker retold the parable of the three stonecutters.

It goes something like this:

Asked what they were doing:

  • the first replied, “I am making a living.”
  • the second replied, “I am doing the best job of stone cutting in the country.”
  • the third replied, “I am building a cathedral.”

After reading this article, we hope many in the training/learning profession view their role as “building a cathedral.” This is the first in a series of articles that attempts to set the stage for strategically repositioning the internal training organization.

Though practical rather than theoretical, this article has a core thesis: Corporate economic performance rests on knowledge and its applications. Done correctly, knowledge increases corporate wealth, which, in turn, increases societal wealth.

Human beings apply knowledge. For them to do so requires systematic, well-organized training/learning programs in a variety of forms. The results of learning and knowledge applications must increase productivity and innovation.

Stated differently: New wealth creation is a function of two explanatory variables — productivity improvement and innovation. The beacons of productivity and innovation must become the guideposts for judging, or at least appraising, the effectiveness of training/learning activities.

Training Myopia: What Business Are We Really In?

Back in the ’60s, the article “Marketing Myopia” published in the Harvard Business Review by Theodore Levitt, then-distinguished professor of marketing at the Harvard Graduate School of Business, made a tremendous impact on senior level executives.

Levitt said most company management teams were looking at their businesses with tunnel vision, what he termed myopia.

He implored people in the airline business or railroad business to broaden their perspectives to realize that they were actually in the transportation business. Their customers wanted to be moved from one location to another by some affordable, efficient means of transportation, and they didn’t really care whether the vehicle was a plane, train, bus, or car.

Levitt implicitly stated that before an organization broadens its vision, it must be sure it has the core competencies or specific knowledges required for success.

Product-Oriented Versus Market-Oriented Definitions

Management should avoid a market definition that is too narrow or broad. Marketing guru Philip Kotler provided the following illustration in an early edition of his classic textbook Marketing Management:

“Consider a lead-pencil manufacturer…If it sees itself as a writing instruments company, it might expand into the production of pens…

…If it sees itself as a writing-equipment company, it might consider making word processors…The broadest concept of its business is that of a communications company, but this would be stretching things too far…”

Because of Levitt’s article, many organizations looked beyond their specific products and/or services and attempted to define the specific value they were providing to their customers.

As a result, organizations selling, say, maintenance services decided they were in the corrosion control business; oil companies redefined themselves as natural energy companies; watch/clock manufacturers redefined themselves as being in the time business (this opened up their horizons to oven clocks, vault timers and the like).

Encyclopedia Britannica redefined itself as being in the information distribution business; Carrier changed from defining its business as making air conditioners and furnaces to providing climate control in the home; Missouri-Pacific Railroad reinvented itself by defining the company as “a people-and-goods mover.”

How Does This Apply to Internal Training Organizations (ITOs)?

For starters, those of us involved with the internal training function would be better served if we stopped thinking we are in the training/ learning business and started realizing we are in the business of creating corporate wealth, instead. Properly viewed, the internal training organization is charged with the awesome responsibility of preparing/enabling employees to achieve greater productivity and innovation, that is, greater corporate wealth.

This kind of thinking will elevate your expectations, get you to ask the right questions about the current and future role of training/learning in your organization, and, above all, liberate you to create and grow opportunities for your training/learning activities.

Admittedly, this may be a foreign thought process to many readers. But it will soon click. Keep reading. Your “aha” moment will arrive. So, let’s get started.

How Training (an American Invention) Created the Foundation of Societal Wealth

In the book Wealth of Nations (1776), Adam Smith discussed how it took centuries for a country to build a core competency. Germany, for example, “because of grueling winters coupled with lots of snow, learned to be woodworkers and make clocks and violins. It took almost 200 years for them to do so.” Smith called this “the tradition of labor.”

“America, in its early beginnings,” noted Drucker, “bribed English craftsmen and supplied them with false papers to come to America and teach us how to build textile machinery and dye cotton….New England became an industrial power around 1810.”

Translated, America founders put NIH (Not Invented Here) behind them — and learned to copy with unique adaptation/enhancement from the best. Americans aggressively sought out the knowledge of experts in foreign countries and practiced what might be called today creative swiping or innovative imitation.

In short, swiping from the best with pride telescoped the 200 years involved in Adam Smith’s tradition of labor to a decade or so. America, because of its initial practice of creative swiping quickly built a thriving economy and was enabled to turn out high-quality products by importing needed expertise.


The next big workforce productivity breakthrough was apprenticeship. First introduced in Germany, apprenticeship led to the formation of specialty skill craft guilds. These guilds were credited with speeding up the skill acquisition learning process.

According to Drucker, “Prior to World War I, unions were craft monopolies; membership in them was restricted to sons or relatives of members. They required apprenticeship of five to seven years, but had no systematic training or work study. Nothing was ever allowed to be written down; there were not even blueprints or other drawings of the work to be done…The members were sworn to secrecy and were not permitted to discuss their work with non-members.”

The 200 years required to build a nation’s skills, observed by Adam Smith, was reduced or compressed into five to seven years because of the exposure to the experience of master craftsmen, that is, apprenticeship learning. That was considered real progress. And it was.

Moving from Apprenticeship Learning to Training

Next, came the invention of TRAINING. It was the greatest workforce productivity revolution of all time.

Training was, in reality, the invention of Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856 –1915). Taylor was the first to study, and reengineer (i.e. redesign) work so that the worker could become more productive — enabling workers to work smarter not harder.

Taylor studied, analyzed, and divided work into a series of systematic, well-organized steps each of which had to be done in one specific way and with a specific set of tools. This led directly to the invention of training. Why? Because Taylor’s approach converted the work to be done into a methodology that could be quickly and easily learned.

Take, for example, Taylor’s first project: analyzing a laborer shoveling sand. He figured out which steps to eliminate and how to do the job with the least physical strain on the operator. Further, he found the traditional shovel was the wrong size, wrong shape, and it had the wrong handle. He then redesigned the shovel for maximum output with minimum effort.

As a consequence, the laborer’s productivity (output/hours worked) nearly tripled. The job became easier and enabled the laborer to be paid a much higher wage.

Taylor was probably America’s, if not the world’s, first industrial engineer and first instructional course designer. Taylor made manual work capable of being taught, learned and practiced. In short, he enabled a “craft skill” (i.e. ad hoc experience, anecdote and the like) to be converted into a step-by-step methodology or systematic learning program.

The result of Taylor’s work? Five or seven years of apprenticeship was reduced to weeks or months of systematic, well-organized learning, that is, training. Now, people could acquire both elementary and advanced skills fast and successfully via training rather than apprenticeship.

Training made many kinds of apprenticeship obsolete. Training substituted systematic learning for exposure to experience. Training enabled people to put knowledge, skills, and tools to work in a very short period of time. Training enabled us to acquire in less time and with the less effort what took years of apprenticeship to learn.

Bottom Line: Training telescoped five or more years of apprenticeship learning into six months or even 90 days.

Historians Believe Taylor’s Contribution to Training Helped Win World War II

Taylor’s greatest impact all told was probably in training. Many believe Taylor’s approach to training explains, more than any other factor, why the United States was able to defeat both Germany and Japan in World War II.

The United States’ Armed Forces during World War II applied Taylor’s methodology to train thousands of recruits and draftees to serve as navigators, electricians, pilots, cooks, welders, riveters, quality inspectors, paramedics, masons and hundreds of other skilled positions.

To get these young men and women up to speed, trainers compressed years of experience into months (sometimes weeks) of organized and systematic learning. Formal course work replaced apprenticeship. The Armed Forces used systems and programs as the foundation for a great variety of skills, such as clerical, supervisory, engineering, and medical.

It was commonly believed before World War II that years of mentoring, coaching, and practicing were necessary to attain first-class skills in the manual crafts. During the war however, everyday Americans with average native intelligence became highly skilled craftsman after 60 to 90 days of training.

Taylor’s Training: Foundation of Post-World War II Economic Growth

Taylor-based training, observed Drucker, endowed a relatively lowwage workforce with world-class productivity in practically no time:

“All the earlier economic powers in modern history — Great Britain, the United States, Germany — emerged through leadership in new technology…The post-World War II economic powers — first Japan, then South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore — all owe their rise to Taylor’s training.”

In The New Convergence, Nobel Peace Prize winner Michael Spence shows how workforce productivity exponentially increased (because of training and retraining) in all advanced countries (and now in developing nations), and why those productivity increases correlate with a huge expansion in both the standard of living and quality of life.

Drucker said: “Consider that years ago, there wasn’t a person in South Korea who had any tradition of skill or craft if only because Japan didn’t allow its neighbors to acquire any…Today, Korea can do almost anything any advanced industrial nation does, thanks to training.”

Knowledge is the Source of New Corporate Wealth

Karl Marx was thought by many to be brilliant. He was. For starters, he had an uncanny knack for asking the right questions. Unfortunately, he was not so good at getting the right answers.

What creates wealth? Marx’s answer was the worker. He called his answer the labor theory of value. He was close but no cigar. He missed the underlying contributor to enabling human beings (i.e. the worker) to create wealth.

What is that enabler? It’s KNOWLEDGE. The real source of wealth is KNOWLEDGE.

Drucker’s Insights About Knowledge

“Knowledge is a specifically human resource. It is not found in books (and cannot be obtained through spell-binding lectures). Books (and lectures) contain information; whereas knowledge is the ability to apply information to specific work and performance. And that only comes with a human being, his brain or the skill of his hands.”

“We now know that the source of wealth is something specifically human: knowledge…If we apply knowledge to tasks we already know how to do, we call it ‘productivity’… If we apply knowledge to tasks that are new and different, we call it ‘innovation.’”

The beacons of productivity and innovation must be our guides in judging whether or not wealth creation is occurring.

If an organization, by whatever means, continues to improve productivity of all key resources and innovative standing, it’s going to be profitable. This, we assert, should be the primary focus of all training/learning activities.

Labor, most notably the knowledge worker, has to be equipped with the right knowledge(s) to achieve productivity improvement and innovation. That’s what creates wealth for the organization which, in turn, creates societal wealth.

Productivity Improvement: Applying Knowledge to Tasks We are Already Doing

The American economy is expected to grow at the abysmally low rate of 2 percent per year over the next decade or so. Translated, this means we can expect a slow/low growth economy that will force organizations to re-strategize and cut costs.

ITOs will have to formulate new programs and activities to equip professional, managerial, technical, and administrative workers with the skills required to effectively carry out tasks required by new corporate agendas.

Structured Learning Programs Boosts Workforce Productivity

What’s the purpose of providing employees with a structured learning program on, say, new concepts in production planning scheduling and control? Or structured learning programs on maintenance management, sales management, facilities management, call center management, warehousing management, manufacturing management, shop floor control, digital marketing and the like?

Think about it for a moment. The purpose is greater productivity — getting more output (or better outcomes) with the same amount of resources or the same output with less resources. It’s really not much different from Taylor’s redesign of the task of shoveling.

By enabling employees to learn how to put into practice new techniques, technologies and methodologies should result in increased productivity. That’s what most learning and knowledge applications are all about.

This means information presented in all forms has to be put into actual practice to be useful. It has to result in increased productivity. So, applying knowledge to tasks we already know how to do, increases productivity. Remember that! It will serve you well when talking to your CEO and/or CFO.

People have to be trained, and re-trained in many instances, to correctly apply the information to obtain the desired results. Ultimately, if successful, corporate wealth increases because resource productivity increases.

Productivity in Knowledge Work and Service Work Demands We Build Continuous Learning into the Job and Into the Organization

Many global ITOs are spreading best internal practices through the use of organized continuous learning activities. They bring together various groups — market researchers, chemical engineers, digital marketers, maintenance managers, warehouse supervisors for social media get-togethers.

Many companies have star plants, which are held up as examples to other plants located around the world. Knowledge gained in one part of the world can be used to gain advantage in another. By comparing the performance of different divisions via the use of measurement, the worst performers learn what the best are doing to get superior results.

There is a need for workers, whether unskilled, skilled, or knowledge workers, to share with others what they have learned to improve their performance.

Continuous learning, as opposed to structured learning, must ask knowledge workers the following question on a continuous basis: “What have you learned that can make your job and the job of all of us (doing a similar thing) more productive, better performing, and better achieving?”

We believe ITOs must organize these social media get-togethers. Sharing best internal practices increases both individual and organizational productivity. And this leads directly to wealth creation via productivity improvement.

The Discipline of Innovation — It’s Capable of Being Taught, Learned, and Practiced

An established company in an age demanding innovation — but not capable of innovation — is doomed to decline and extinction. And management in today’s low/slow growth economy that does not know how to stimulate, direct, and make effective innovation is incompetent to its task.

Innovation is not improvement. Improvement aims at making the already successful better still. It is a never-ending activity that requires specific quantitative goals, such as annual improvements of 3 percent to 5 percent in cost, quality, and customer satisfaction. Improvement starts with feedback from the frontline: people who actually make the product and will deliver the service, salespeople, and, of course, the end-users.

After feedback information is collected and analyzed, the company’s scientists, engineers, or product designers must convert the front line’s suggestions and queries into changes in product, process, or service. But, again, improvement is not innovation.

Innovation is sometimes confused with managed evolution. Managed evolution, observed Drucker, is the use of a new product, process, or service to spawn an even newer product, process or service.

A Quick Example of Managed Evolution

Interestingly, many years ago Drucker was a consultant for ServiceMaster (a multi-billion-dollar corporation) and helped them define “What is our business?”

He (and members of the management group) determined they had great strength in applying Taylor-based training methods and, as a consequence, could quickly and easily prepare low-skilled people to do a very specific type work.

Essentially ServiceMaster is a low-tech organization that specializes in providing supporting functions–such as termite and pest control, landscape maintenance, office maintenance, and home care for the elderly.

Elizabeth Edersheim in the Definitive Drucker said: “The core of the company’s business is to offer professional management of the jobs that most of its clients consider menial and a nuisance to oversee… The real secret to the company’s success, however, is its unique ability to develop sometimes illiterate hires into highly productive, motivated and quality-conscious service workers.”

Drucker believed that ServiceMaster was the perfect example of an organization that grew–and continues to grow– through managed evolution. Specifically he said:

“ServiceMaster started with the systematic application of industrial engineering to hospital maintenance and the training of low-skill people…It then evolved this, step-by-step, into office maintenance and the care of elderly shut-ins…Managed evolution is always market driven; it often requires, however, new, or at least newly developed, technology and tools.”

What is Innovation?

Innovation is the specific function of entrepreneurship, whether in an existing business, a public-service institution or a new venture started by two friends in a garage.

Innovation is doing truly and different things. Innovation is much more than spinoffs from science and engineering. It is creating new value.

The measure of innovation is the impact on the environment. The iPod, iPhone and iPad are examples of real innovation with tremendous societal impact.

Can Innovation be Taught?

Drucker and others provided the equivalent of a structured learning program that enables managers to easily and quickly acquire what had, since the beginning of time, been accessible only to the neargenius. What formally required trial-and-error learning now requires formalized study, hard work, and, in some cases, imagination.

In short, internal entrepreneurship can be learned. It’s an acquired skill. (We will discuss this in future articles). For example, fast-track managers can be taught what kind of innovation is likely to become a major product or process, a major new business, a major market; managers can be taught how to identify areas where innovation is needed; managers can be taught how to develop the right organizational structures to nurture innovation.

Managers can be taught how to budget for innovation as opposed to budgeting for the ongoing organization; managers can be taught how to formulate and implement the appropriate entrepreneurial strategies and venture management systems, and much more.

Implications for ITOs

Innovation is not a “Eureka moment.” Thanks to the work of Drucker and many others, fast-track managers can be “trained” to produce and manage innovation. Once again, training can be used to create new wealth via structured learning programs and organized continuous learning activities dedicated to the subject of innovation.

In this period of extreme slow economic growth, innovation will be required to thrive and survive. Producing and managing innovation is an essential and acquirable skill for management.

Yes, managing innovation is in acquirable management skill. Repeat that to yourself five times. Innovation can be taught, learned, and practiced. In the final analysis, ITOs that convert this truism into operating reality will help create new corporate wealth for their organization.

Summary and Conclusions

There are two components to creating corporate wealth — productivity improvement and innovation. The right kind of training can significantly increase workforce productivity and create wealth producing innovation.

Chapter 5

Learning to Learn: Preparing People for Lifelong Performance & Results

Chapter 5 Part I: Drucker on Learning for Performance & Results

This article synthesizes many of Drucker’s astonishing observations about why the most important thing to learn in school is how to learn — the habit of continuous learning. More specifically, Drucker pinpointed specific practices for enabling young people to discover learning and the joy of learning.

Another thing: Most educated people who go to work in their early 20s will keep on working until they are 70 or 75. And perhaps even older if current longevity trends continue. Second and third careers will become the norm.

Translated, this means people must be prepared to want to learn — to see continuous learning as something they enjoy doing not something they need to do.

Thankfully, Drucker provided us with clear, practical advice on what needs to be done to enable people to acquire the habit of learning and be prepared to combat inevitable knowledge obsolescence and boredom.

Many believe the answer to improving our school system resides in finding and hiring the best teachers. Others believe the focus of our school system must be on learning rather than teaching.

Unfortunately, it’s a false hope to get “better teachers” in quantity. Superior teachers will always be in short supply.

What we need is the proper usage of learning technologies to elevate the performance of all teachers.

Needed: A Systematic Learning Methodology

Peter F. Drucker observed that teaching is the only major occupation for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance in the classroom.

Said Drucker: “In teaching we rely on the ‘naturals,’ the ones who somehow know how to teach. Nobody seems to know, however, what is it the ‘naturals’ do the rest of us do not do…

…The only way we can get better results is by giving qualified teachers the right tools and by organizing their work properly.”

Drucker contended that teaching involves artistry. Therefore he concluded that it is impossible for artistry to confine itself to the boundaries of routine and convention.

Because there are so few truly gifted teachers, it is impractical to rely on the naturals. This reality of statistical probability dictates an inevitable gap between master and pedestrian teachers.

Without going into detail about “the role of the teacher in motivating students to learn.” It can be said that a mediocre teacher tells; a good teacher explains; a superior teacher demonstrates; a great teacher does all three.

Today’s learning technologies gives to today’s competent teacher a capacity to perform well beyond that of the ablest teacher of 50 or 100 years ago, and enables the outstanding teacher of today to produce learning miracles.

Learning Smarter

The world is changing. Developing countries are hungry for knowledge. They want to put new and old knowledge to work. To become more productive. To become effective competitors.

We all know this. This requires us to prepare students for tomorrow’s realities.

Today’s reality (and tomorrow’s) calls for continuous learning and training.

Students must be equipped with something that yesterday’s schools paid little attention to: They need to learn how to learn.

They will need this skill to economically survive. Schools must prepare students to learn again and again — just to keep up in their respective fields and for second and possibly third careers.

Said Drucker: “They must be prepared to want to learn — to see it not as something they need to do, but as something they enjoy doing… they will have to learn how to learn… they will have to have acquired the habit of learning.”

Drucker pointed out, again and again, in schools of today many students lose self-confidence. And that’s the greatest barrier to learning. Much of Drucker’s writing on the subject deals with overcoming this deficiency in our educational system.

In essence, Drucker proposed three principles upon which our school system must be based. These are:

  • Schools must focus on the student’s strengths (as opposed to their weaknesses)
  • Schools must recognize that one of the best ways to learn is to teach others
  • Schools must employ learning technologies to enable young people to work individually at their own speed, rhythm and attention span

Focusing on the Learner’s Strengths

For starters, we know how people learn how to learn. All it requires is to focus on the strengths and talents of learners so that they will excel in whatever it is they do well.

Said Drucker: “Any teacher of young artists — musicians, actors, painters — knows this. So does any teacher of young athletes.”

But most schools are forced — understandably — to focus instead on a learner’s weaknesses. That’s the way the system works.

“When teachers call in the parents of a 10-year-old, they usually say: ‘Your Jimmy has to work on the multiplication tables. He is way behind.’

They rarely say: Your Jimmy should do a good deal more writing to do even better at what he already does well’…”

Teachers tend to focus on the weaknesses of students, and for good reasons: The school has to endow students with the basic skills they will need whichever way you choose to go.

But — and this is a very big but — “one cannot build performance on weaknesses, even on corrected ones; one can build performance only on strengths.”

Schools are problem-focused. But that must change. In today’s society, teachers will have to learn to say: “ I will focus on your child’s strengths and that will give him/her self confidence and self-esteem.”

Children must be given a sense of achievement and that means building on their strengths.

When a student focuses on what they’re good at, whether they play computer games or writing, they tend improve upon what they’re not good at.

In short: By focusing on what they are good at, they become motivated to overcome their weaknesses in other subjects.

Learning by Teaching Others

“Just as no one learns as much about a subject as the person who was forced to teach it, no one develops as much as the person who is trying to help others to develop themselves.”

This is a simple, but amazing insight into the learning process. Anyone who has taught/trained others immediately recognizes this Drucker truism.

Simply put, the best way to learn is to teach .

Indeed, observed Drucker, “one of the reasons why the one-room schoolhouse “of a century ago was such a good learning environment is that the teacher with 70 kids from ages 6 to 16 had to use the older children to tutor and mentor the younger ones… And the older children learned…”

In a series of time-spaced articles Drucker repeatedly noted that teaching others had to be part of the specs for the school of tomorrow.

The key question: How do we put more advanced youngsters to work teaching so that they not only learn but also discover learning and the joy of learning? Much research is being done with respect to going from principle to practice with respect to learning through teaching.

Technology-Assisted Learning

The technology exists to produce and manage real learning. Electronic messaging, when professionally done, in form and style art expert, masterly, teaching, communicating.

Take, for instance, the 30-second television commercial. Every splitsecond counts; every word means something.

“Few teachers spend in their entire teaching careers as much time with thought on preparing that classes as is invested in the many months of writing, drawing, acting, filming, and editing one 30 second commercial…”

More than 50 years ago Drucker observed that “electronic messaging conveys accessible information ,clear image, and perfect comprehension…

…It is just the right length for the attention span of the small child… It is perfect learning in its methodology, is indeed the prototype of the “ideal program” with its three key elements: effective sequence of the material, validation through repetition, and self-motivation of the learner through pleasure.”

We have reviewed some astonishing DVD/streaming programs in fundamentals of mathematics, algebra 1, algebra 2 and others. Great teachers coupled with animations, simulation exercises, and all the rest make difficult concepts exciting and easy to understand. Need we say more?

Indeed, we have also reviewed programs that have built-in tutors. For example, if the student has difficulty with, say, subtraction, he/she is led into a tutorial that teaches subtraction in a way very few teachers could replicate.

Stated differently, technology makes it possible for the individual student to work individually, and work at his or her own speed and rhythm and attention span. Technology can also extend a teacher’s span, the time teacher has to spend with individuals.

With the type of technology available today, the student can manage himself or herself quite effectively. Yes, “you still have to supervise them, but to a large extent, but to a large extent the oldest children do that, if you use them as teachers…”

Asking the Right Questions About our Educational System

Drucker emphasized the need to ask the right questions. He believed that the most serious mistakes are not the result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions — and getting the right answers.

Executives in business or administrators in a government agency, parents or their children, policy-makers or citizens, teachers or students must make every effort to address the right questions.

For decades, politicians among others, observed Drucker, have been asking the wrong questions about how to improve our educational system. At best, they been getting the right answers to the wrong questions.

Once the right questions are formulated, the school of tomorrow will not just be a restored version of yesterday’s (or today’s) school.

It will have different objectives and different priorities. It will prepare students for a world that requires continuous learning and re-training.

We have to facilitate “learning smarter” as opposed to better teaching. Today, many of these tools are now available. Learning technologies, in the last few years, have made remarkable gains. However, the majority on these tools have not yet made their way into the classroom.

Unfortunately, the focus of many schools is still on teaching not learning.

Billions of dollars have been spent in an attempt to get better teachers. But it won’t happen. It’s money down the drain if the cost to results ratio is examined.

Our politicians and educators must begin to ask the right questions about education. If they don’t, America’s economic prosperity, standard of living, income equality and world standing ill greatly diminish.

The next five years will make unprecedented demands on political courage, political imagination, political innovation, and political leadership. After all is said and done, we need government competence.

Summarizing: Income Equality and Education

For America to remain competitive, its students need to learn vastly more, much more quickly. The Gates foundation, among others, have demonstrated a link between a country’s GDP and the academic test scores of its children.

Stanford economist Eric Hanushek’s statistical analyses have found “that if a country scores were only a half a standard deviation higher than another’s in 1960, its GDP grew a full percentage point faster in every subsequent year through 2000.”

Translated, long-term growth in the United States is dependent upon dramatically increasing the quality of our educational system.

Discussions relating to income equality rarely mention equality of effort. It seems that the effort is not only related to the individual student but to the entire system.

If we wait until these challenges have indeed become insurmountable, perhaps we will never recover.

A Glimpse of What You Can Expect from Reading the Total E- book (parts I — IV)

We believe you are going to love this e- book. It is not a “fad” book; it is a “fact” book — full of truths, concepts, and thought processes that are timeless and actionable.

We believe it can/will change the way you view the role and mission of your internal training organization.

Today’s knowledge-based workforce are becoming the largest single group… and have already become the major creator of corporate wealth. Increasingly the success, indeed the survival of every business will depend on the performance of its knowledge workforce.

What does this mean? Workforce training, constant retraining and continuous learning activities must climb to the top of the agenda of the individual firm and the nation.

More than ever before, internal training organizations must prepare its workforce for a rapidly arriving and disruptive future. Drucker’s teachings form a blueprint for every thinking leader.

The true objective of many of Drucker’s principles and practices is to take chaos and uncertainties as givens and convert them from problems into opportunities.

Here follows some of the general topics you’ll learn about in this four-part series:

  • Training measurements related to business results and/or process management
  • Aligning training with corporate goals via usage of strategy maps
  • Technology-assisted behavioral learning (i.e. drill, repetition, incessant practice)
  • Social media and organized continuous learning (i.e. sharing best practices between and among employees to increase productivity)
  • Management development and manager development in rapidly changing technological and business environments
  • Understanding how people learn… and how to design instructional programs to capitalize on easily forgotten but enduring truths about learning principles & practices
  • How training can nurture internal entrepreneurship in an era of management
  • Training measurements related to business results and/o
  • Using the Beacons of Productivity & Innovation as Guideposts in Designing & Appraising Training Outcomes
  • How talent management through training and continuous learning can restore the will to work at all levels in the organization
  • Strategic leadership development in a turbulent economic and world environment — how to develop the thinking skills to adapt quickly, navigate messy environments, and grow talent assets to survive and thrive
  • The critical linkage between talent management & Internal training organizations: Working together to create & deliver career products that attract & retaining employees
  • And much more!
Frank J. Wyatt

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Tallyfy is beautiful, cloud-native workflow software that enables anyone to track business processes within 60 seconds. I work as a consultant there.

On Business Process Management and Workflow Automation

Notes about legacy business process management, robotic process automation and modern workflow software. Includes diverse opinions about operations, lean, workflow management, Six Sigma and process improvement.