Drucker on Being the Change Leader, Part 3

In his book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Peter Drucker analyzed and discussed the new paradigms of management.

Although much of the discussion revolves around the perspective of the organization, these are my takeaways on how we can apply his teaching on our journey of being a knowledge worker.

Drucker asserted that “One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it.”

While many of us seek the comfort of stability and status quo, the world rarely cares about what we want. In a period of upheavals with rapid change being the norm, the only ones who survive are the Change Leaders.

A change leader sees change as an opportunity. A change leader looks for change, learns how to find the right changes, and work to make them effective both outside and inside of the organization. Change leaders need to be aware of four elements. The third element is “The right way to introduce change, both within and outside the organization.”

Organizations employ market research and customer studies to limit, if not eliminate, the risks of change. However, it may not be possible to leverage research data when an organization is trying to introduce an innovation that has not been done before.

The effects of innovation can be unpredictable. Very often anything truly new, whether product or service or technology, finds its major market not where the innovator and entrepreneur expected. At the same time, the innovation could be used not for which the innovator or entrepreneur has designed the product, service or technology. In those instances, no market or customer research can help.

Drucker asserted that neither studies, nor research, nor computer modeling is a substitute for the test of reality. The right way for introducing everything improved or new, therefore, is to test on a small scale. Another word, the changes need to be PILOTED.

The right way to do “piloting” is to find a group of “early adopters” within the organization and work with them. Along the way, everything new gets into trouble so that it will need a champion. And this champion needs to be someone whom the organization respects, within or outside.

Drucker suggested that a good way to pilot a new product or new service is often to find a customer who is willing to help. The customer would want the new product or service because it would solve a problem for them. The customer is also willing to work with the producer on making the new product or the new service truly successful.

By correctly piloting a project, we are in a much better position to find the problems and the opportunities that nobody anticipated, in terms of design, the market, and service. Piloting exercises also reduce the risks of introducing the change. After piloting, it is usually easier to come up with the strategy of deployment, such as where to introduce the change and how to introduce it.