Peter Drucker – Thoughts on Technology and Organizations

organizationtechIn the past year, technology has drastically changed how we execute at the workplace. At of the end of 2010, organizations continue to find the most effective use of social networking. Video conferencing continues to make strides forward in how all members of an organization communicate to each other and technological developments such as the Apple iPad continue to give businesses the ability to organize data faster and efficiently. The information barriers held up by government and corporations continue to shatter as consumers online make in-roads with technology that allows them to integrate themselves deeper into organization behavior and results.

Throughout his career, Peter Drucker studied these technological trends as he was coaching executives and the teams they were responsible for. From the horse buggy to the automobile, the mainframe the size of a house to a computer the size of a pocket watch; Peter Drucker was continuously asked by his mentees “How will these technological trends impact my organization today and in the future?”

Drucker’s fundamentals on resources stayed the same throughout the decades of his work and still apply today:

A resource that does not contribute to an organization or an individual’s results is not a resource at all.

Earlier in his career in the 1940’s, Drucker was asked what the impact of the computer was on businesses, management and society. Before the mainstream use of the computer, organizations handled data through archived books and ledgers while information was put from pen to paper (moving later on from typewriter to paper). With the emergence of the computer after World War II, changes in processing power and in storage capability increased drastically; with government and later on businesses keeping an eye out for emerging trends of this new technology.

The main idea during the birth of the computer was “What can the computer replace?” The mathematicians were dreamed to be gone, the storage areas for information physically eliminated and the thoughts and tasks of an individual replaced with a machine that can execute faster and eventually take over the working roles of others or those who created it.

Looking back, the computer has made many achievements in processing, communication, information and data storage, but the one it still needs to obtain is knowledge. Peter Drucker’s most quoted response was “The computer is a moron”, not because he did not believe in the future of computers, but he foresaw that knowledge is what drives results in managing the top organizations. Drucker often refers to the knowledge worker and the knowledge society, technology being a part of that, but being used to obtain, develop and carry out the knowledge from people.

Information not applied to action is just useless data, continuously focusing on what a computer generates and not applying it effectively just ends up in the organization’s people and the machine wasting valuable time and resources. Technology then becomes a “cost center” in an organization – soaking up organizational input without producing a meaningful output. What needs to be considered is “How can this generate a result that impacts my organization today and in the future” and understand that the output of any technological device is dependent on the user and the variables the user inputs. The data and execution of any machine is reliant on the knowledge of the user and on how the machine is used not why it needs to be used.

In conclusion, technology can add a multiplier on any organization as long as it is used properly and those in the organization keep in mind that it is applied knowledge and behaviors that drive success; not what up-to-date technology exists today or even what may exist in the future. Anyone in an organization still need to follow a common vision, values and goals which are realities that only people can face; core parts requiring flawless execution that even technology cannot do today.

Jorrian Gelink

Management Architect

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