Saturday, November 8th, was Drucker Day on the campus of Claremont Graduate University’s Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management. This year would have been Peter Drucker’s 99th and the event also marks the kick-off of the Centennial Celebration for next year’s event.
I teach a 2nd-year MBA course called Management Consulting at the Drucker School, an attempt to help students understand the complex consulting world (I taught the same course at Pepperdine this fall, too). Recently, I’ve also had the chance to help train the first year Drucker MBA students in their presentation skills. The neat thing about interacting with MBA students is that it gives you a new and different perspective of the world. In addition, it is invigorating to interact with the fresh faces of the next generation of leaders. The fact that so many of the students come from overseas only adds to the experience.
Recently, my alma mater, the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business announced a major contribution from billionaire David Booth who gave $300 million to the school. Now, we’re known as the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Returning to Drucker Day, the guest speaker, Daniel Yankelovich, founder of the NY Times/Yankelovich Polls talked about the mood of the country. He made some poignant points about the need for a New Pragmatism to take over in order for the nation (and the world) to overcome the challenges we currently face.
Daniel says that mainly due to cultural reasons, the nation’s ability to solve problems has been diminished. And the only way to attack a cultural problem is to provide a cultural solution. New Pragmatism, focusing on values-driven, anti-dogmatic, socially-conscientious, and perhaps an even utopian approach to problem solving would help “accelerate the learning curve.” Daniel feels that people are generally good at becoming conscious of problems (like global warming or the healthcare problems) and in finding resolutions, once they agree on what to do. However, people are terrible in the second stage, which is “denial”, when they agree there’s a problem but cannot on the cause (or the solution). Many people still believe global warming isn’t man-made, or is a problem, but one that only requires a solution in the future. New Pragmatism, a cultural approach may be the answer.
Mr. Yankelovich, as connected to public opinion as anyone, criticized the excesses of Wall Street, especially Executive Compensation.
In the afternoon, I attended two sessions, one by Professor Joe Maciariello who recently updated Peter Drucker’s book on Management. He shared moving stories of his interaction with Peter Drucker and how the book came to fruition, and how it is still relevant (or even more relevant) in today’s world. He said that if Peter were alive today, he would point at Wall Street and say, “I told you so!”
I then moved to a session by Finance Professor Jay Prag, who gave a session about the current financial mess, the bailout, and what’s in store. He was definitely against the entire concept of bailing out risk takers, but on the other hand, he was not so harsh on executive compensation. “If baseball players can make $20 million, why shouldn’t the head of GE or other major firms do the same? Their job seems to be much more important,” he commented. Being a Chicago (or now I must say Booth ) graduate and a big fan of free(r) markets, I didn’t see anything wrong with that argument.
That’s the neat thing about making a visit back to school. People can freely exchange ideas. For anyone with an appetite for knowledge, we can drink from the fountain of wisdom here.
I am grateful that I’m associated with this fine institution in Claremont.