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Drucker and Facebook–Organizing for Change

Posted Oct 19 2009 10:03pm
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There’s a story about the demise of Facebook in the Washington Post: Worldwide ebb for Facebook.
I like the logic–when a company’s been around long enough for someone to make a movie out of it, then it’s probably on the downhill slide, even if they do get Justin Timberlake.

That people are interested in something new shouldn’t be surprising to anyone in business, marketing or evolutionary psychology.  Same ol’, same ol’ won’t cut it, especially in a world where expectations about the speed of change have reached new highs.  But rather than speculate on trends and following the migration across social media tools of whoever’s cool, it’s time to revisit some words of wisdom from the original management guru, Peter Drucker.

Organizations must be organized for innovation.  Using economist Joseph Schumpeter’s term “creative destruction,”  Drucker said companies should be:

organized for the systematic abandonment of whatever is established, customary, family and comfortable, whether that is a product, service, or process; a set of skills; human and social relationships; or the organization itself.  In short, itmust be organized for constant change.  The organization’s function is to put knowledge to work–on tools, products, and processes; on the design of work; on knowledge itself.  it is the nature of knowledge that it changes fast and that today’s certainties always become tomorrow’s absurdities.” (Drucker, 2006, p. 140)

Just because companies like Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest are using new technologies and breaking new ground, doesn’t mean they aren’t subject to the same needs for good management practices that cultivate innovation.  It will be up to Facebook’s management, not a few trendsetters, if Facebook is to stay prosperous and viable.

Drucker, P. (2006) Classic Drucker: Wisdom from Peter Drucker from the Pages of Harvard Business Review. Cambridge, Harvard Business Press.

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