Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Real Business Guy...and Others...

Gniz also brings to my attention a couple of more Big Minders, one a skier, and one guy whose "main product is the InfoGuru Marketing Manual."

Let's talk about the latter guy
, who also has coined the term "Big Mind Marketing," gushing over Dennis Merzel that he's "a real live American born Zen Master and had been for many years before he discovered this process. He says that it's the biggest breakthrough in Zen thinking in 2,500 years." Now, I shouldn't pick on this guy, because, well, he's a marketing guy who markets marketing, and any way in which he can get you to buy his product in the marketplace, well, he'll do that.

That said, I'm still reminded of a snippet I saw in "Thank You for Smoking" (the only bit of the film I'd seen) about why lobbyists do what they do. I'm also reminded of a phrase that goes something like "Right Livelihood."

Coincidentally I happened to also see at this time an article in The Economist on the influence of Peter Drucker.

...He was a genuine intellectual who, during his early years, rubbed shoulders with the likes of Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Maynard Keynes and Joseph Schumpeter. He illustrated his arguments with examples from medieval history or 18th-century English literature. He remained at the top of his game for more than 60 years, advising generations of bosses and avoiding being ensnared by fashion. He constantly tried to relate the day-to-day challenges of business to huge social and economic trends such as the rise of “knowledge workers” and the resurgence of Asia.

But Drucker was more than just an antidote to status anxiety. He was also an apostle for management. He argued that management is one of the most important engines of human progress: “the organ that converts a mob into an organisation and human effort into performance”. He even described scientific management as “the most powerful as well as the most lasting contribution America has made to Western thought since the ‘Federalist Papers’.” He relentlessly extended management’s empire. From the 1950s onwards he offered advice to Japanese companies as well as American ones. He insisted that good management was just as important for the social sector as the business sector. He acted as an informal adviser to the Girl Scouts. He helped inspire the mega-church movement. The management school that bears his name recruits about a third of its students from outside the business world.

The most important reason why people continue to revere Drucker, though, is that his writing remains startlingly relevant. Reading “Concept of the Corporation”, which was published in 1946, you are struck not just by how accurately he saw the future but also by how similar today’s management problems are to those of yesteryear. This is partly because, whatever the theorists like to think, management is not a progressive science: the same dilemmas and difficult trade-offs crop up time and again. And it is partly because Drucker discovered a creative middle ground between rival schools of management. He treated companies as human organisations rather than just as sources for economic data. But he also insisted that all human organisations, whether in business or the voluntary sector, need clear objectives and hard measurements to keep them efficient. Drucker liked to say that people used the word guru because the word charlatan was so hard to spell. A century after his birth Drucker remains one of the few management thinkers to whom the word “guru” can be applied without a hint of embarrassment.

If you have a job, especially one in today's office environment, you should read The Effective Executive, at least. Drucker's advice has many practical elements of the cultivation of mindfulness, and is one of the few business books I've found worthwhile.

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