Drucker on Corporate Social Responsibility

From Peter Drucker’s Management:Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices’, after noting that expectations are placed on corporate entities not because they’re disliked, but because they’re one of the only institutions left that can effectively work towards their interests…so, the public thinks, let’s make our interests their interests.

Clearly, the demand for social responsibility is not as simple as most books, articles, and speeches on the subject make it out to be. But it is not possible to disregard it, as such distinguished economists as Milton Friedman of Chicago have urged. To be sure, Friedman’s argument that business is an economic institution and should stick to its economic task is well taken. There is danger that social responsibility will undermine economic performance and with it society altogether. There is surely an even greater danger that social responsibility will mean usurpation of power by business managers in areas in which they have no legitimate authority.

But it is also clear that social responsibility cannot be evaded. It is not only that the public demands it. It is not only that society needs it. The fact remains that in modern society there is no other leadership group but managers. If the managers of our major institutions, and especially of business, do not take responsibility for the common good, no one else can or will. Government is no longer capable, as political theories still have it, of being the “sovereign” and the “guardian of the common good” in a pluralist society of organizations. The leadership groups in this society, and this means the managers of the key institutions, whether they like it or not—indeed whether they are competent or not—have to think through what responsibilities they can and should assume, in what areas, and for what objectives. If there is one moral to these cautionary tales, it is not that social responsibility is both ambiguous and dangerous. It is that social impacts and social responsibilities are areas in which business—and not only big business—has to think through its role, has to set objectives, has to perform.

Social impacts and social responsibilities have to be managed.

Don’t Do What You Love; Do What You Do

Mark another blow for the managerial lazy “find your passion” stance:

And like many, I wonder if I am “following my passion.” Doing “what I love.” I do love writing — but I’m not necessarily passionate about describing the benefits of adding chia seeds to green juice. But after my yearlong search of trying to find that one thing that I was emotionally and intellectually invested in – be it poetry or treating liver stagnation with ancient Chinese principles – I realized that there might be something valuable in letting go of the assumption that “my career” and my passions would be one and the same.

Russian Style

Putin may be like that because Russians want him to be like that.

In Russia, they do not respect non-authoritarian leaders. The late President Boris Yeltsin is considered a clown, and people I spoke to in Russia have no respect for him. They view him as the leader who destroyed the Soviet Union. Gorbachev, who is another “friendly” leader (in style) is not respected either. Medvedev, who is open and seeks democratization within Russia, is considered a lightweight and weak.

It is Putin people respect. He is strong. He is decisive. He is tsarist.

…From my vantage point working often in Russia the past two years, the West is judging him harshly, ignoring the culture within which he operates and the limitations it places on him.

Autocratic Management

Neither the Japanese, nor Zeiss, nor IBM practice “permissive management.” Management in Japan is notoriously autocratic. No one has ever mistaken an order by a Japanese company president for a polite request. Abbé, according to all reports, was not permissive either. While a kind man by all accounts, he was very much the German “Herr Professor” and was used to unquestioned authority. Thomas Watson, Sr., was a tyrant. Abbé and Watson demanded excellence in performance and did not accept good intentions as a substitute.

- Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, and Practices

Sound familiar?

Rands on how to make meetings suck less

Meet with your reports.  Every week at the same time (no matter what – do not move these or reschedule them) and for at least 30 minutes each (book 45 minutes so you have room if it runs over).

Oftentimes, the first reaction to this is “Wait, I have 20 people.  You’re suggesting I’m going to spend 10 hours a week managing having these meetings with folks?”  Lopp has two responses: (1) yes; (2) you shouldn’t have 20 direct reports.  

“Mayer is cleaning up something Jobs always feared at Apple: A bozo explosion.”

The Street:

Over the years at Yahoo!, incompetent people hired more incompetent people who went on to hire even more incompetent people. These B-players maintained the status quo, while implementing all of the perks Silicon Valley and other tech staffers have come to expect and enjoy. At Yahoo!, working at home became expected, not a convenient consequence of competence.

Marissa Mayer Is No Fool


Let’s be serious: if significant portions of Yahoo top performers were “stay@home” coders, testers and project management telecommuters, do people really think Mayer would arbitrarily issue edicts guaranteed to alienate them?

We’re talking about someone who tested 41 shades of blue to see which yielded better results. My bet is that Yahoo has been so mismanaged that generous policies like this have been abused for years. This is a necessary move to get things back on track. But instead people are treating this like they’re just doing this to be jerks.

DHH on Yahoo’s Remote Work Policy

What this reveals more than anything is that Yahoo management doesn’t have a clue as to who’s actually productive and who’s not. In their blindness they’re reaching for the lowest form of control a manager can assert: Ensuring butts in seats for eight hours between 9-5+.

Perhaps this is why Yahoo is doing this: they’ve been mismanaged for so long they simply don’t know who to trust.

Shit Jobs: McDonald’s

Ever Read “The E-Myth“?

It advocates setting up your workplace like McDonalds, because McDonald’s is set up in a way that they can hire low-skilled workers to get the job done. There’s no critical thinking. All they need to do is follow the flow chart.

McDonald’s is the best managed company in the world, right down to the slightly subnormal woman with a weird limp who smokes unfiltered Pall Malls who’s in charge of your shift– she has been indoctrinated perfectly in how to make your day tight as a drum. You aren’t grilling, you take out the trash, you sweep and mop. Drill sergeants aren’t this good.

Sounds like a boring job. That’s why they’re given to 16-year olds.

Negative Feedback Before Its Time – Manager Tools

This. This so much.

You do not need to know why people do things, because everyone always means to do the right thing. Ask yourself, when was the last time you intentionally set out to mess something up and then were pleased when you were able to do it. It doesn’t happen.

When people say we need to find out why your direct did th—NO YOU DON’T! You need to correct them for the next time, because the more time you spend trying to find out why they did it, they’re going to have more reasons why what they did was right, causing them to be more defensive to say “what I did was right, so I don’t know why I should do it differently next time.”

Effective managers are not concerned with the inspiration the direct has. They are concerned with the outcome of the behaviors.

When managers go down this road of trying to be Sherlock Holmes on mistakes, they are going backwards, not forwards.

If you work in an office and are not already listening to Manager Tools, you should.

Put the computer away

From Managing Humans by Michael Lopp:

Ask Larry to put his computer away. I mean it. If you can’t vivaciously participate in a meeting you were invited to, you should not be there. “Rands Rands Rands … I take notes on my computer.” No, you don’t. You take notes and when I use some proper noun you don’t recognize, you surf Wikipedia. If notes must be taken, designate one person to do it; I want you asking me what the proper noun is … not consulting Wikipedia. A useful meeting is not a speech; it’s a debate. If I’m up there flapping my lips and you disagree or don’t understand, I don’t want you to nod, I want you to yell at me.

Emphasis mine.