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Be Challenged by the Best to Be the Best: Peter Drucker Asks a Question and Makes an Observation

Sep 16, 2008
We always carry out by committee anything in which
any one of us alone would be too reasonable to persist.

--Frank Moore Colby

I had the good fortune to work with Peter Drucker for many years in helping to sharpen my focus on creating tomorrow's best management practices. Let me share with you what I learned and encourage you to seek similar stimulation.

By early 1995, Carol Coles and I had been meeting with Peter Drucker, the founder of the management as an academic field, two or three times annually to review what our learning organizations for executives and entrepreneurs were doing and to get his advice on how to improve. It was exciting to hop on the plane to California from Boston knowing all the great things we had to share with Peter.

On this occasion, he unexpectedly shifted our focus. He asked a new question: "How many of these new developments are you learning from your members and how many are you developing from your own thoughts?" Considering the last year's results, we realized that although the members were doing a great job of defining what they wanted to know, we had drained the insights members could provide from their experiences. The new processes, solutions, and breakthroughs were coming from work that Carol and I were doing. We admitted that to Peter.

He noted that if that were true, these organizations were holding back the innovations that Carol and I could develop and deliver. We agreed to think about his observation.

His question was like the emotional impact of being hit by a surprise earthquake. We were reeling with the implications for weeks.

Nagged by that suggestion, I realized that a totally new approach was needed. Other seeds started to germinate that I had gathered from my observations about the nature of making rapid improvements. Here was the conclusion: The fastest current rate of progress could be replaced by much more rapid improvements when better sharing of knowledge was tied to focusing existing attitudes and habits in more helpful directions.

Gradually, I began to realize that it is possible to accelerate worldwide improvements by 20 times within the span of only 20 years. That realization was a key ingredient in launching the project to bring that result about. Before the end of 1995, the project to achieve that acceleration goal between 2015 and 2035 was born.

Thirteen years later, we've shown that it can be done.

But the task would never have been begun without Peter's challenge.

Who is challenging you to step beyond your wildest dream?

Find someone with a tough question and get started!
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through and receive tips by e-mail through registering for free at

http://www.fastforward400.com .
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