brainroads-toward-tomorrows mental patterns


pyramid to dna

the big picture

Navigating time

… and life

The challenge → its between the ears

Why bother? You either seek to do it or it gets done to you …

Will tomorrow be like 1920, 1930, 1940 … 1970, 1990 or …?

Will tomorrows be an extrapolation of today?

How has that worked in the past?

What patterns do you see?

Can you rely on politicians to take care of things?

Will you outlive your current source of income? — very likely!

When the discontinuity occurs, what will you be prepared for?

Besides a changing world, we get older and acquire different “ambitions”

What are the consequences of becoming stuck at an earlier time or age?

What is there in day-to-day routines that
automatically develops a person and moves them forward or
provides them with something genuinely interesting to work toward?

Having a “good job” today doesn’t necessarily mean anything for tomorrow

As historical examples, try looking for the different impacts
that our changing world had
on the people working at the
four most successful companies of the 20th century
— IBM, Sears, The Bell System, and GM.

The future is unpredictable and that means
it won’t be a continuation of today.

How can a person determine when to change
their allocation of effort? here and here

about people, intelligence and their behaviors

IBM 1990s ::: 400,000 employees
… more Nobel prize winners than most countries have
… not a single qualified CEO candidate




A work approach
for “dealing” with a world
moving toward unimagined futures




Navigating time (and life): It’s between the ears

— there are no magic formulas.

It takes endless yet intermittent work …

There is thinking work and operational work derived from the thinking

Some of the work is sequential and some parallel …

Results from one area of work feed other areas …

The vast majority of this page points toward
different areas of work over a life-time




The page (and site) largely features Peter Drucker’s
top-of-the-food-chain thinking
presented in a somewhat operational sequence.




This page is an introduction to
exploring for next “relevant” horizons to work toward

time investments are required for getting toward tomorrowS
… there are constantly receding horizons

time investments are required for escaping the prison of the past
(Detroit, Microsoft’s lost decade, Blackberry, AOL …)

time investments are required for creating competing mental patterns

This page could be viewed as an introductory adventure or treasure map
to be explored and noted






We can only work on and with the things on our mental radar
at a point in time

YouTube: The History of the World in Two Hours

Experts don’t control reality. Their advice can’t rejuvenate the obsolete.
Their knowledge base is no substitute for what you need!


Only in “fairy tales” do they live happily ever afterlook here

Warren Buffett’s ABCs of decay: arrogance, bureaucracy, complacency

Pollyannas sabotage themselves, their organizations, their communities …

Your money sources will find “better” offerings

If you’re still alive in fifteen years,
will you be one of those who has been left behind? here

TomorrowS are NOT extensions/extrapolations of yesterdayS —
you can’t get there from here

about risk and uncertainty ::: Living in a Lego world

See knowledge productivity further down the page


Waiting for an obvious need or signal is at the root of major crises
(Institutional and community implosions — Detroit and Rochester, NY)



Think Apple™

How to guarantee NON-PERFORMANCE

Conditions for survival


The future that has already happened ::: Making the future


What’s your functioning world knowledge specialty?
The knowledges needed to make the world function — today and tomorrow …


Taking career responsibility


You are responsible for allocating your life
— nobody is going to do it for you


Ten Principles for Life II
— make your life your end game


What do you have that others want? Why
would they be interested in you?




We can only work on and with the things on our mental radar
at a point in time

cork board radar

If you confine your mental radar to your current situation,
it will be difficult to escape the prison of the past


What do these issues, these challenges mean for … ?

challenger thinking

Challenge thinking

… an alternative

Water logic vs. rock logic

Operacy — the thinking that goes into doing



“Managers are synthesizers
who bring resources together
and have that ability to “smell” opportunity and timing.

Today perceptiveness is more important than analysis.

In the new society of organizations,
you need to be able to recognize patterns
to see what is there
rather than what you expect to see.”
Interview: Post-Capitalist Executive

Attention directing and flow — the first step in SEEING


Attention directing and flow

Writing out what you see
is different from saying it
mentally or verbally. It makes you decide.

Additionally, what are the implications of what you see?

Information is not enough … THINKING is needed!

Thinking Broad and Thinking Detailed by Edward de Bono

Going outside




You can make all the plans you will, … all will likely come to naught, for “however carefully you plan for the future, someone else’s actions will inevitably modify the way your plans turn out.” — James Burke

So, what can be done to deal with this reality?






bbx “Today is always the result of actions and decisions taken yesterday.”

“The customer never buys what you think you sell.
And you don’t know it.
That’s why it’s so difficult to differentiate yourself.”

“All our experience tells us that the customer never buys what the supplier sells.

Value to the customer is always something fundamentally different from what is value or quality to the supplier.

This applies as much to a business as it applies to a university or to a hospital.”

“High tech is living in the nineteenth century, the pre-management world.

They believe that people pay for technology. They have a romance with technology.

But people don’t pay for technology: they pay for what they get out of technology.” — The Frontiers of Management


bbx “There are constant pressures toward unproductive and wasteful time-use.”


bbx “A success that has outlived its usefulness, may, in the end, be more damaging than failure.”


bbx “For the manager the future is discontinuity.

And yet the future, however different, can be reached only from the present.

The greater the leap into the unknown, the stronger the foundation for the takeoff has to be.

The time dimension gives the managerial decision its special characteristics.” — Management, Revised Edition


bbxLittle ideas have frequently been the seeds from which giant corporations have grown.”


bbx “The winner in a competitive world economy is going to be the firm that most effectively shortens the product life of its own products


bbx “You must take integrating responsibility for putting yourself into the big picture.”

Starting points: The Essential Drucker ::: The Daily Drucker ::: Wisdom

Up to Poverty ::: The Vanishing East ::: The Rise of New Power Centers

Drucker on Asia ::: Urban world: The shifting global business landscape

Economic landscape vistas

Other parts of this page and its links ::: Create a mind map?


bbx “Specialists remain specialists, becoming ever more skillful at interpreting the score …” more




Exploration landscapes and timescapes

“To know something,
to really understand something important,
one must look at it from sixteen different angles.

People are perceptually slow,
and there is no shortcut to understanding;
it takes a great deal of time.” Drucker read more on this


larger view of the image above

Thought collector

See action system below


bbx The Shift To The Knowledge Society

bbx The same forces which destroyed Marxism as an ideology and Communism as a social system are, however, also making Capitalism obsolescent.

bbx … But the center of gravity in the post-capitalist society—its structure, its social and economic dynamics, its social classes, and its social problems—is different from the one that dominated the last two hundred and fifty years and defined the issues around which political parties, social groups, social value systems, and personal and political commitments crystallized.

bbx Knowledge is the only meaningful resource. It exists only in application !!! (not in school)

bbx Knowledge always makes itself obsolete within a short period of time

bbx Knowledge demands continuous learning — but different from today’s “school” approach — because it is constantly changing

bbx It (organizations) must be organized for constant change

Recurring alternative career paths and career opportunities are embedded in this concept

bbx Organizations in the post-capitalist society thus constantly upset, disorganize, and destabilize the community

bbx The economic challenge of the post-capitalist society will therefore be the productivity of knowledge work and the knowledge worker

bbx The social challenge of the post-capitalist society will, however, be the dignity of the second class in post-capitalist society: the service workers

bbx The nation-state is not going to wither away.

It may remain the most powerful political organ around for a long time to come, but it will no longer be the indispensable one.

Increasingly, it will share power with other organs, other institutions, other policy-makers.

But the political order will look different from the political order of the last four centuries, in which the players differed in size, wealth, constitutional arrangements, and political creed, yet were uniform as nation-states—each sovereign within its territory and each defined by its territory

bbx We surely are nowhere near the end of the turbulences, the transformations, the sudden upsets, which have made this century one of the meanest, cruelest, bloodiest in human history

bbx The Management Revolution

In fact, knowledge is the only meaningful resource today.

And knowledge in this new sense means knowledge as a utility, knowledge as the means to obtain social and economic results

These developments, whether desirable or not, are responses to an irreversible change: knowledge is now being applied to knowledge.

This is the third and perhaps the ultimate step in the transformation of knowledge.

Supplying knowledge to find out how existing knowledge can best be applied to produce results is, in effect, what we mean by management.

But knowledge is now also being applied systematically and purposefully to define what new knowledge is needed, whether it is feasible, and what has to be done to make knowledge effective.

It is being applied, in other words, to systematic innovation.

This third change in the dynamics of knowledge can be called the “Management Revolution.”

Like its two predecessors — knowledge applied to tools, processes, and products, and knowledge applied to human work — the Management Revolution has swept the earth.

That knowledge has become THE resource, rather than a resource, is what makes our society “post-capitalist.”

This fact changes—fundamentally—the structure of society.

It creates new social and economic dynamics


Unless we can learn how to increase the productivity of knowledge workers and service workers, and increase it fast, the developed countries will face economic stagnation and severe social tension. read more


The productivity of knowledge is going to be the determining factor in the competitive position of a company, an industry, an entire country.

No country, industry, or company has any “natural” advantage or disadvantage.

The only advantage it can possess is the ability to exploit universally available knowledge.

The only thing that increasingly will matter in national as in international economics is management’s performance in making knowledge productive. read more


To improve the productivity of knowledge workers will in fact require drastic changes in the structure of the organizations of post-capitalist society, and in the structure of society itself.


bbx It’s in the news


bbx A Century of Social Transformation

A quick look at Drucker’s scope

bbx A Functioning Society

bbx The Ecological Vision

bbx The End of Economic Man (it’s probably in the news today)

bbx Management, Revised Edition (partial view of the management landscape)

A somewhat different version exists in The Essential Drucker (a place to begin reading Drucker and dip into his top-of-the-food-chain brain)

The main contents list:

bbx Introduction to a A Century of Social Transformation

bbx The Social Structure and Its Transformations

bbx The Rise and Fall of the Blue-Collar Worker

bbx The Rise of the Knowledge Worker

Knowledge specialty

bbx The Emerging Knowledge Society

bbx Introduction

Another implication is that the performance of an individual, an organization, an industry, a country, in acquiring and applying knowledge will increasingly become the key competitive factor—for career and earnings opportunities of the individuals; for the performance, perhaps even the survival, of the individual organization; for an industry; and for a country.

The knowledge society will inevitably become far more competitive than any society we have yet knownfor the simple reason that with knowledge being universally accessible, there are no excuses for non-performance.

There will be no “poor” countries.

There will only be ignorant countries.

And the same will be true for individual companies, individual industries, and individual organizations of any kind.

It will be true for the individual, too.

In fact, developed societies have already become infinitely more competitive for the individual than were the societies of the early twentieth century—let alone earlier societies, those of the nineteenth or eighteenth centuries.

Then, most people had no opportunity to rise out of the “class” into which they were born, with most individuals following their fathers in their work and in their station in life.


As said before, the shift from knowledge to knowledges offers tremendous opportunities to the individual.

It makes possible a “career” as a knowledge worker.

But it equally presents a great many new problems and challenges.

It demands for the first time in history that people with knowledge take responsibility for making themselves understood by people who do not have the same knowledge base.

It requires that people learn—and preferably early—how to assimilate into their own work-specialized knowledges from other areas and other disciplines.

This is particularly important, as innovation in any one knowledge area tends to originate outside the area itself.

This is true in respect to products and processes—where, in sharp contrast to the way it was in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, innovations now tend to arise outside the industry or process itself.

It is true just as much in scientific knowledge and in scholarship.

The new approaches to the study of history have, for instance, come out of economics, psychology, and archaeology—all disciplines which historians never considered relevant to their field and to which historical research had rarely before been exposed.

bbx How Knowledges Work

bbx The Employee Society

bbx What Is an Employee?

bbx The Social Sector

bbx Knowledge Economy and Knowledge Polity

bbx School and Education as Society’s Center (not the present system)

bbx The Competitive Knowledge Economy

bbx How Can Government Function?

bbx Conclusion: The Priority Tasks — The Need for Social and Political Innovations

bonus material

Trade Lessons from the World Economy

Peter Drucker Sets Us Straight (it hasn’t been a recession but a transformation and the structure of the economy)


bbx Exploring beyond yesterday(S) → trying to see road(S) ahead

bbx Managing ONESELF — an introduction → strengths? … where do I belong? … what should I contribute? … the second half of life …

The INDIVIDUAL’s foundation for everything else

Successful careers are not planned.

They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values.

Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person—hardworking and competent but otherwise mediocre—into an outstanding performer.

… And we will have to stay mentally alert and engaged during a 50-year working life, which means knowing how and when to change the work we do.

More below

bbx Post-capitalist EXECUTIVE

Even today, remarkably few Americans are prepared to select jobs for themselves.

When you ask, “Do you know what you are good at?

Do you know your limitations?” they look at you with a blank stare.

Or they often respond in terms of subject knowledge, which is the wrong answer.

When they prepare their resumes, they still try to list positions like steps up a ladder.

It is time to give up thinking of jobs or career paths as we once did and think in terms of taking on assignments one after the other.


Being an educated person is no longer adequate, not even educated in management.

One hears that the government is doing research on new job descriptions based on subject knowledge.

But I think that we probably have to leap right over the search for objective criteria and get into the subjective—what I call competencies.

Do you really like pressure?

Can you be steady when things are rough and confused?

Do you absorb information better by reading, talking, or looking at graphs and numbers?

I asked one executive the other day, “When you sit down with a person, a subordinate, do you know what to say?”

Empathy is a practical competence.

I have been urging this kind of self-knowledge for years, but now it is essential for survival.

People, especially the young, think that they want all the freedom they can get, but it is very demanding, very difficult to think through who you are and what you do best.

In helping people learn how to be responsible, our educational system is more and more counterproductive.

The longer you stay in school, the fewer decisions you have to make.

For instance, the decision whether to take French II or Art History is really based on whether one likes to get up early in the morning.

And graduate school is much worse.

bbx Abandonment — the first step toward tomorrowS

bbx Shifting efforts — starving problems while feeding OPPORTUNITIES

bbx Thoughtscape: the radically evolving social ecology

bbx How to guarantee NON-PERFORMANCE — long version

star red What executives should remember

star red Ten Principles for Life II


bbx Plus more than 500 additional “interlocking” web pages (some are broader thoughtscapes and some are narrower topics) exploring navigating time





Mental radar ammo and attention directions

complex mental landscape Adventures of a Bystander Connections Living in more than one world Who says elephants can't dance Post capitalist society Practical thinking Mgt challenges 21 c Mgt cases

more Drucker books

Information by itself is not enoughthinking is required




Elements of a life-long action system

We can only work on and with the things on our mental radar —
at a point in time


larger view of the image above


larger view of the image above


“ … Power has to be used. It is a reality.

If the decent and idealistic toss power in the gutter, the guttersnipes pick it up.

If the able and educated refuse to exercise power responsibly, irresponsible and incompetent people take over the seats of the mighty and the levers of power.

Power not being used for social purposes passes to people who use it for their own ends.

At best it is taken over by the careerists who are led by their own timidity into becoming arbitrary, autocratic, and bureaucratic.” — PFD




Career assumptions

… “They [individuals] can no longer assume that what they have learned as children and youngsters will be the “foundation” for the rest of their lives.

It will be the “launching pad” — the place to take off from rather than the place to build on and to rest on.

They can no longer assume that they “enter upon a career” which then proceeds along a pre-determined, well-mapped and well-lighted “career path” to a known destination — what the American military calls “progressing in grade.”

The assumption from now on has to be that individuals on their own will have to find, determine, and develop a number of “careers” during their working lives.




Managing oneself
(a revolution in human affairs)

The changes and challenges of Managing Oneself may seem obvious, if not elementary, compared to the changes and challenges discussed in the earlier chapters.

And the answers may seem to be self-evident to the point of appearing naïve.

To be sure, many topics in the earlier chapters—for example, Being a Change Leader or some of the Information Challenges—are far more complex and require more advanced and more difficult policies, technologies, methodologies.

But most of the new behavior—the new policies, technologies, methodologies—called for in these earlier chapters can be considered EVOLUTIONS.

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.

It requires new and unprecedented things from the individual, and especially from the knowledge worker.

For in effect it demands that each knowledge worker THINK and BEHAVE as a Chief Executive Officer.

It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.

Knowledge workers, after all, first came into being in any substantial numbers a generation ago.

(I coined the term “knowledge worker,” but only thirty years ago, in my 1969 book The Age of Discontinuity.)

But also the shift from manual workers who do as they are being told—either by the task or by the boss to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves profoundly challenges social structure.

For every existing society, even the most “individualist” one, takes two things for granted, if only subconsciously: Organizations outlive workers, and most people stay put.

Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations, and the knowledge worker has mobility.

In the United States MOBILITY is accepted.

But even in the United States, workers outliving organizations—and with it the need to be prepared for a Second and Different Half of One’s Life—is a revolution for which practically no one is prepared.

Ten Principles for Life II

Nor is any existing institution, for example, the present retirement system.

In the rest of the developed world, however, immobility is expected and accepted.

It is “stability.”

In Germany, for instance, mobility—until very recently came to an end with the individual’s reaching age ten or, at the latest, age sixteen.

If a child did not enter Gymnasium at age ten, he or she had lost any chance ever to go to the university.

And the apprenticeship that the great majority who did not go to the Gymnasium entered at age fifteen or sixteen as a mechanic, a bank clerk, a cook—irrevocably and irreversibly—decided what work the person was going to do the rest of his or her life.

Moving from the occupation of one’s apprenticeship into another occupation was simply not done even when not actually forbidden.

The developed society that faces the greatest challenge and will have to make the most difficult changes is the society that has been most successful in the last fifty years: Japan.

Japan’s success and there is no precedent for it in history—very largely rested on organized immobility—the immobility of “lifetime employment.”

In lifetime employment it is the organization that manages the individual.

And it does so, of course, on the assumption that the individual has no choice.

The individual is being managed.

I very much hope that Japan will find a solution that preserves the social stability, the community—and the social harmony that lifetime employment provided, and yet creates the mobility that knowledge work and knowledge workers must have.

Far more is at stake than Japan’s own society and civic harmony.

A Japanese solution would provide a model—for in every country a functioning society does require cohesion.

Still, a successful Japan will be a very different Japan.

But so will be every other developed country.

The emergence of the knowledge worker who both can and must manage himself or herself is transforming every society.

This book has intentionally confined itself to MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES.

Even in this last chapter, it has talked about the individual, that is, the knowledge worker.

But the changes discussed in this book go way beyond management.

They go way beyond the individual and his or her career.

What this book actually dealt with is:

See book contents





“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving toward unimagined futures.

It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then figure out a coping plan for what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise. A site exploration starting point



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