My 10 lessons from the 7th Global Drucker Forum

I was unable to personally attend the forum this year as between the websummit in Dublin and my own work in Google, I had to compromise on the excellent livestream instead.

My interest in the forum stems from the fascinating topic of management, change and leadership in the digital age, especially in the face of disruption. Disruption that many of the companies I worked for are partially responsible for.

But I was primarily interested to hear live many of the thinkers I regularly follow. From Adi Ignatius of HBR, the brilliant Rita Gunther Mcgraph from Columbia and my own INSEAD professor Gianpiero Petriglieri. I was also happy to be exposed to many other great speakers like Henry Mintzberg, Tammy erickson, Kevin Roberts and Claudio Fernandez-Araoz.

As someone who is very much into the practical applications of technology in the workplace, I always try to apply a similar approach when reading and discussing any academic theory or hypothesis. I could relate to many of the comments in the forum as I have experienced them first hand. With others I still struggle to estimate the probability of actually implementing them.

So to summarize my 7th Global Drucker Forum experience, below are my ten takeaways:

  1. Potential is more important than experience. A great presentation by Claudio Fernandez-Araoz that highlights the importance of learning and adaptiveness over experience as the prime capability in the fast changing landscape we are in. This was supported by Rachel Botsman from Oxford University who promoted the focus on human behaviour, interactions and curiosity.
  2. Tenure should not be an indicator of performance. Kevin roberts from Saatchi & Saatchi suggests to get rid of any practice in the organization that is tied to tenure, saying that we don’t want to join the navy but to be pirates instead, highlighting the fast pace and disruptive nature of business today.
  3. The further up the company you are the stupidest you become. You are just too far from anything that matters and everybody lies to you. The need for empowerment and hiring great leaders becomes a CEO most important role and is what’s needed for a bottom-up transformation to succeed. Skype is my one example.
  4. Organic Adoption. There is nothing you can do to force employees to create value. They need to want it and create it. Tammy Erickson proves that forcing change doesn’t work and ordering someone to be innovative doesn’t create innovation.
  5. Innovation can come from anywhere. Robin Chase of Zipcar highlights what I have seen happen too often in organization: a big separation between engineering and the business function. This can create a generic salesforce on the one hand and a bland technology on the other. Startups rarely have this dramatic separation, enabling more nimble alignment. To that Rita added that you don’t need to be a scientist in the lab to create innovation.
  6. Our own mindsets are holding us back. We constantly view stability as normal and change as abnormal. Raised by Rita Gunther McGrath of Columbia Business School and highlights the cultural and sometimes abstract elements we need to get right when transforming our organizations.
  7. Re-allocating resources is a key leadership challenge. Rita identified what frequently happens in organization which is the corporate inertia of teams, projects and products that no longer serve the purpose of the wider company. To decommission these teams and allocate the people to more promising leads requires courage by the leadership and overcoming internal challenges. But this is necessary to avoid complexity, empire building and politics.
  8. One source of truth for a data-driven culture. Digital boils down to the use of data and in order to foster trust in it by the employees, a shared, curated one source of truth for metrics needs to be established. That was our first transformation step at Skype.
  9. The stark difference between network and community according to Henry Mintzberg. If you want to know what is the difference between the two, try asking your Facebook friends to come and paint your home! Social media are effective for communicating, not for work.
  10. Peter Druckerwe are becoming aware that the major questions regarding technology are not technical but human questions

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