brainroads-toward-tomorrows mental patterns


pyramid to dna


A work in process

Wisdom (Harriet Rubin) ::: Simplicity



Drucker: The Man Who Invented the Corporate Society


Consider how you might calendarize these Drucker concepts




The Happiness Purpose


Meta-System definition

A meta-system provides a reason for doing something which does not lie within the immediate situation itself.

A meta-system is a higher system outside the immediate system in which one happens to be operating. 


Perhaps the most striking example of the operation of a powerful meta-system is the way Christian martyrs went singing to their deaths in the Colosseum of Rome and elsewhere throughout the ages.

Their meta-system of belief was so powerful that they were willing to give up life itself:

the meta-system required that the operating system close down.

A meta-system can make no higher demand.


Not very different was the fervour with which the Janissaries and other soldiers of Islam hurled themselves into battle with a disregard for their personal safety.

They knew that once a jehad or holy war had been declared, death in battle meant instant access to heaven.

Suicides (lack of a meta-system)

In contrast to the Christian martyrs and the Islamic soldiers there is the opposite example of suicides or people who end their lives not through the operation of a meta-system but through the lack of one. 

From this must be exempted ritual suicide such as the Japanese hara-kiri which is another example of the operation of a powerful meta-system (though this time a social one and with no reward of heaven). 

I have known many people who have attempted suicide and several who have succeeded.

If we leave aside the gesture type of suicide attempt there seem to be two mechanisms. 

One is a sort of temporary madness or rage and fury at life itself and especially at oneself. 

Though the end-point is different the process is probably not any different from any burst of destructive rage.


The other mechanism is a sort of blankness or emptiness of the will to live. 

There seems to be nothing to look forward to and no point in life.

The spirit appears to have died and so the body might as well follow it.

It is sadly characteristic of depression that at the depth of depression it does not seem possible that anything can ever change or get better.

It does not seem possible that there should ever be any enjoyment again in anything.

No matter how many up and down swings a depressive may experience, in each down-swing he cannot believe that it will pass.

The depressive exists from moment to moment.

There is no meta-system of belief which allows him to get outside of himself and outside of the moment.

Figure 2 shows how in the moments of depression a meta-system can provide the needed continuity and hope.

A device for reacting

A meta-system is a device for reacting to something other than what is immediately under one’s nose. 

Left to himself a child would eat poison berries (or medicines) because they were red and pretty.

Human children would have difficulty in surviving if there were not the meta-system of parents who provide instruction that goes beyond the gratification of the moment.

Because of his freedom of action a human child needs such an outside meta-system.


A bird, however, avoids the poison berries because instinct has programmed him against them.


Instinct provides an inbuilt meta-system—except that the bird probably does not feel attracted to the berries in the first place since he is not free to be attracted unless his instinct programme includes such attraction. continue


Josh Abrams → allocating one’s life

Ten Principles for Life 2.0




Peter Drucker — a writer and political/social ecologist

… but the only thing that is “new” about political ecology is the name.

As a subject matter and human concern, it can boast ancient lineage, going back all the way to Herodotus and Thucydides.

It counts among its practitioners such eminent names as de Tocqueville and Walter Bagehot.

Its charter is Aristotle’s famous definition of man as “zoon politikon,” that is, social and political animal.

As Aristotle knew (though many who quote him do not), this implies that society, polity, and economy though man’s creations, are nature to man, who cannot be understood apart from and out of them.

It also implies that society, polity and economy are a genuine environment, a genuine whole, a true “system,” to use the fashionable term, in which everything relates to everything else and in which men, ideas, institutions, and actions must always be seen together in order to be seen at all, let alone to be understood. continue


Peter DruckerMy life as a knowledge worker




“Drucker refers to his mind, deprecatingly, as a storehouse of trivia.

Trivia it is not; it is an awesome assemblage of disparate facts that Drucker is able to adduce to support his points.

Filtered through his verbal acuity, these facts are often compressed into startling observations that shed a new light on some familiar situation.

Drucker also uses his gift for aphorism to puncture sacred cows.

His keen eye and skill with words make him entertaining—and dangerous

John Tarant




Druckerisms are attention directing tools


“Economists never know anything until twenty years later.

There are no slower learners than economists.

There is no greater obstacle to learning than to be the prisoner of totally invalid but dogmatic theories.

The economists are where the theologians were in 1300: prematurely dogmatic” — Frontiers of Management


“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.”


“People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete—the things that should have worked but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are.” ―


Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.


“Success always obsoletes the very behavior that achieved it.
It always creates new realities.
It always creates, above all, its own and different problems.
It is not easy for the management of a successful company to ask, ‘What is our business?’
Everybody in the company thinks that the answer is so obvious as not to deserve discussion.
It is never popular to argue with success, never popular to rock the boat.
But the management that does not ask ‘What is our business?’ when the company is successful is, in effect, smug, lazy and arrogant.
It will not be long before success will turn into failure.” what executives should remember


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



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 — the antidote.

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

The alternative to tyranny

The antidote



Time-life navigation quotations

Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.


Management by objective works – if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time you don’t.


Objectives are not fate; they are direction. They are not commands; they are commitments. They do not determine the future; they are means to mobilize the resources and energies of the business for the making of the future.


Most discussions of decision-making assume that only senior executives make decisions or that only senior executives decisions matter. This is a dangerous mistake.


People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.


Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.


The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.


The purpose of a business is to create and keep customers.


There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.


The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.


Efficiency is doing better what is already being done.


The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker but of the manager.


No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.


The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.


Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.


Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.


All one has to do is to learn to say ‘no’ if an activity contributes nothing.


What is the first duty — and the continuing responsibility — of the business manager? To strive for the best possible economic results from the resources currently employed or available.


People do not know that you cannot successfully innovate in an existing organization unless you systematically abandon. As long as you eliminate, you’ll eat again. But if you stop eliminating, you don’t last long.


Leaders shouldn’t attach moral significance to their ideas: Do that, and you can’t compromise.


The only things that evolve by themselves in an organization are disorder, friction, and malperformance.


One cannot buy, rent or hire more time. The supply of time is totally inelastic. No matter how high the demand, the supply will not go up. There is no price for it. Time is totally perishable and cannot be stored. Yesterday’s time is gone forever, and will never come back. Time is always in short supply. There is no substitute for time. Everything requires time. All work takes place in, and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable and necessary resource.


The really important things are said over cocktails and are never done. (calendarize this?)


Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right.


Concentration is the key to economic results. No other principles of effectiveness is violated as constantly today as the basic principle of concentration.


Long range planning does not deal with future decisions, but with the future of present decisions.


Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ — that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.


What gets measured, gets managed.


No decision has been made unless carrying it out in specific steps has become someone’s work assignment and responsibility


Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.


Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better.


The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.


Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you’ve got.


Any organization develops people: It has no choice. It either helps them grow or stunts them.


Don’t take on things you don’t believe in and that you yourself are not good at. Learn to say no.


If you can’t establish clear career priorities by yourself, use friends and business acquaintances as a sounding board. They will want to help. Ask them to help you determine your ‘first things’ and ‘second things.’ Or seek an outside coach or advisor to help you focus. Because if you don’t know what your ‘first things’ are, you simply can’t do them FIRST.


Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the naturals’, the ones who somehow know how to teach.


Don’t travel too much. Organize your travel. It is important that you see people and that you are seen by people maybe once or twice a year. Otherwise, don’t travel. Make them come to see you.


The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I’. And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I’. They don’t think ‘I’. They think ‘we’; they think ‘team’. They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit… This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.


Too many leaders try to do a little bit of 25 things and get nothing done. They are very popular because they always say yes. But they get nothing done.


Again, let’s start out discussing what not to do. Don’t try to be somebody else. By now you have your style. This is how you get things done.


Leaders communicate in the sense that people around them know what they are trying to do. They are purpose driven — yes, mission driven. They know how to establish a mission.


I tell all my clients that it is absolutely imperative that they spend a few weeks each year outside their own business and actively working in the marketplace, or in a university lab in the case of technical people. The best way is for the chief executive officer to take the place of a salesman twice a year for two weeks.


Few top executives can even imagine the hatred, contempt and fury that has been created — not primarily among blue-collar workers who never had an exalted opinion of the ‘bosses’ — but among their middle management and professional people. What do you want to be remembered for?


When you are the chief executive, you’re the prisoner of your organization. The moment you’re in the office, everybody comes to you and wants something, and it is useless to lock the door. They’ll break in. So, you have to get outside the office. But still, that isn’t traveling. That’s being at home or having a secret office elsewhere. When you’re alone, in your secret office, ask the question, ‘What needs to be done?’ Develop your priorities and don’t have more than two. I don’t know anybody who can do three things at the same time and do them well. Do one task at a time or two tasks at a time. That’s it. OK, two works better for most. Most people need the change of pace. But, when you are finished with two jobs or reach the point where it’s futile, make the list again. Don’t go back to priority three. At that point, it’s obsolete.


We suffer from over-choice: 67 varieties of toothpaste, 487 styles of shoes, 186 brands of cell phones with 137 telephone companies. We demand more variety than we could possibly need or want; and as a result, we get lost in options, opportunities, and choices. There are 87 varieties of lawyers, and 75 specialties inside medicine. The world of work can be a confusing landscape.


That people even in well paid jobs choose ever earlier retirement is a severe indictment of our organizations — not just business, but government service, the universities. These people don’t find their jobs interesting.


A critical question for leaders is: ‘When do you stop pouring resources into things that have achieved their purpose?’


Morale in an organization does not mean that ‘people get along together’; the test is performance not conformance.


An employer has no business with a man’s personality. Employment is a specific contract calling for a specific performance… Any attempt to go beyond that is usurpation. It is immoral as well as an illegal intrusion of privacy. It is abuse of power. An employee owes no ‘loyalty,’ he owes no ‘love’ and no ‘attitudes’ — he owes performance and nothing else.


Ideas are somewhat like babies — they are born small, immature, and shapeless. They are promise rather than fulfillment. In the innovative company, executives do not say, ‘This is a damn-fool idea.’ Instead they ask, ‘What would be needed to make this embryonic, half-baked, foolish idea into something that makes sense, that is an opportunity for us?’· Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship… the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.


Once a year ask the boss, ‘What do I or my people do that helps you to do your job?’ and ‘What do I or my people do that hampers you?’


Great leaders find out whether they picked the truly important things to do. I’ve seen a great many people who are exceedingly good at execution, but exceedingly poor at picking the important things. They are magnificent at getting the unimportant things done. They have an impressive record of achievement on trivial matters.


How does one display integrity? ‘By asking, especially when taking on office: What is the foremost need of the institution and therefore my first task and duty?’


Ask yourself: What major change in the economy, market or knowledge would enable our company to conduct business the way we really would like to do it, the way we would really obtain economic results?


Ask yourself: What would happen if this were not done at all?


So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.


The subordinate’s job is not to reform or re-educate the boss, not to make him conform to what the business schools or the management book say bosses should be like. It is to enable a particular boss to perform as a unique individual.


Effective leaders check their performance. They write down, What do I hope to achieve if I take on this assignment?’ They put away their goals for six months and then come back and check their performance against goals. This way, they find out what they do well and what they do poorly.


The individual is the central, rarest, most precious capital resource of our society


The most efficient way to produce anything is to bring together under one management as many as possible of the activities needed to turn out the product.


The computer is a moron.


Successful leaders make sure that they succeed! They are not afraid of strength in others.


The CEO needs to ask of his associates, ‘What are you focusing on?’ Ask your associates, ‘You put this on top of your priority list — why?’ The reason may be the right one, but it may also be that this associate of yours is a salesman who persuades you that his priorities are correct when they are not.


Free enterprise cannot be justified as being good for business. It can be justified only as being good for society.


Executives owe it to the organization and to their fellow workers not to tolerate nonperforming individuals in important jobs.


A manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge.


Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.


Business, that’s easily defined — it’s other people’s money.


Few companies that installed computers to reduce the employment of clerks have realized their expectations… They now need more and more expensive clerks even though they call them ‘operators’ or ‘programmers.


What’s absolutely unforgivable is the financial benefit top management people get for laying off people. There is no excuse for it. No justification. This is morally and socially unforgivable, and we will pay a heavy price for it.


A man should never be appointed into a managerial position if his vision focuses on people’s weaknesses rather than on their strengths.


Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.


Performing organizations enjoy what they’re doing


Far too many people—especially people with great expertise in one area—are contemptuous of knowledge in other areas …


The formation of character is a lifelong process.


It is … more important to have quit once than to have been fired once.


The greatest sin may be the new 20th-century sin of indifference.


The computer memory is only the mechanical expression of the organizational fact.


Keywords: tlnkwdruckerisms


“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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