[The following is an abridged version of an essay prepared by SMR International President Guy St. Clair in observance of the centenary of Peter F. Drucker’s birth. The full essay is published here, at the SMR International site and at SMRShare, the company’s knowledge capture site.]
The Drucker Centenary Approaches:
Developing, Managing, and Sharing Strategic Knowledge
For many who work with strategic knowledge, the upcoming Drucker Centenary carries with it something akin to confirmation or affirmation. Considering Mr. Drucker’s contributions, the observances focused around 19 November acknowledge that we are ready to move to a knowledge society. For many of us, we can’t help but be grateful that – as a society – we’re getting beyond the affectation of ignorance that seemed to characterize such a large chunk of our recent past.
As we think about what is available to us as citizens, the application of knowledge services becomes something of a lightning rod for us. In today’s workplace, strategic knowledge as a construct provides us with the opportunity to clear out what no longer works (even if it worked in the past), to move forward in taking advantage of the innumerable opportunities we have for knowledge development and knowledge sharing (what some of us refer to as “KD/KS”), and to find in the effective management of strategic knowledge the bridge to our shared culture as a knowledge society.
Such are the thoughts that come to mind after an evening with colleagues in The Drucker Society of New York, for meeting with us were Frances Hesselbein, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Leader to Leader Institute (formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management), and Bruce Rosenstein, author of Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life.
As might be expected from these two expert storytellers, the evening became one of shared experiences (not only from the two of them, but from audience members as well) and ideas flowed freely. Indeed, it would be extremely gratifying to capture all that was discussed but highlights must suffice. And providing highlights is not such a difficult task, since Lee Igel, the group’s leader, used the concept of “defining moments” – those times or events in our lives that guided us to our association with Peter Drucker – to help us focus our thoughts.
Hesselbein went back to her childhood to describe her defining moment, telling about how she had determined from her grandmother’s good influence that there is no place in our society (or in the workplace) for prejudice and exclusion. Rosenstein chose as his experience the time when, as he worked toward his book about Drucker’s influence, Drucker used the phrase “living in more than one world,” providing Rosenstein the concept he knew he wanted to convey.
We all have these moments. For some, the defining moment comes when – in a secure profession or field of work, perhaps – there’s a desire to do more, to put one’s self on the line and seek work in which one either supports organizational effectiveness or finds one’s self on the street looking for a job! And, yes, we’re speaking personally here, for as a young librarian my defining moment came when I decided that I wanted to be accountable for my work. The positions in which I had been employed up to that time were not asking enough of me, and I wanted very much to be judged for my professional performance. At about the same time, something led me to specialized librarianship, where my work would either be part of organizational success or I wouldn’t have a job. It was that simple, my defining moment, and it led me down paths I never even knew existed. And, as can be inferred, to a focus on the role of management, individual competencies, and, yes, the influence of a philosophy like that of Peter Drucker’s, as we seek to achieve organizational effectiveness.
So what we are experiencing – as we think about what Drucker was leading us to – turns out to be something of an affirmation after all, doesn’t it? For those of us looking to understand the place of strategic knowledge in our lives – and our professional roles in developing, managing, and sharing strategic knowledge – it is something of a pleasure to be so affirmed and to learn to recognize that defining moments that lead us onward and upward.