Peter Drucker and the Forward Focused Mindset

A major thread running throughout last month’s WorldFuture 2016 annual conference of the World Future Society was the concept of a futurist mindset. (As part of the Unconference segment, I led a discussion on the future of leadership, and last week I wrote about my experiences at the conference.)

The idea of mindset resonated with me, as it’s a major part of my 2013 book Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way: Developing and Applying a Forward Focused Mindset.  Although Drucker did not use ‘mindset’ terminology, when I organized a framework around his voluminous work on the future, mindset was the first of 10 elements of the future I derived from his life and work.

Drucker, “the father of modern management,” who died in 2005 at 95, did not see himself as a futurist. Yet the concept of the future was ever-present in his work, and last year I wrote a streamlined guide, “A Mini-Guide to Peter Drucker’s Writings on the Future.” A long-running theme was ‘The Future That Has Already Happened,’ which he used as an article title in 1997 for the Harvard Business Review. The article was reprinted in The Futurist, the World Future Society’s magazine.

The terminology of  the 10 Elements of the Future is mine. The ideas are based on many years of study of Drucker’s work, including my interviews with him for my books, and earlier for USA TODAY.

  • Mindset: Keeping the future in mind as you go about your daily life and work.
  • Uncertainty: Don’t assume the future will be similar to today.
  • Creation: The future must be built/created.
  • Inevitability: The concept of ‘The Future That Has Already Happened.’
  • Present moment: The future is based on the thoughts, decisions and actions you are making right now.
  • Change: Accept it as normal and ongoing, and organize yourself for constant change.
  • Reflection: What are the future implications of potential futures for your life and work?
  • Remove/improve: Based on Drucker’s idea of ‘systematic abandonment,’ coupled with kaizen (steady, incremental improvement).
  • Innovation/Entrepreneurship: This formed the basis of his influential 1985 book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
  • Risk: Accepting and facing challenges from disruption, turbulence and more.

Drucker’s call to action from 1974 remains relevant: “The future requires decisions-now. It imposes risk-now. It requires action-now.”

This post originally appeared on Bruce Rosenstein’s Living in More Than One World blog, and is republished here with the author’s permission.

Posted in: KM, Management