A Window into Mozart

Here’s a recent post by the folks the Drucker Exchange (the Dx) that hosts an ongoing conversation about bettering society through effective management and responsible leadership. It is produced by the Drucker Institute, a think tank and action tank based at Claremont Graduate University that was established to advance and build on the ideas and ideals of Peter F. Drucker (1909-2005), the father of modern management.

“The Dx was first published as Drucker Apps in 2009 (see Dx archives). Renamed and reconfigured in October 2010, the Dx is now designed to stimulate a discussion of current events that is illuminated by Peter Drucker’s timeless teachings. It is a blog for people who want to get informed, involved and inspired to convert ideas into action.”

In several dozen previous posts, I’ve shared a wide variety of opinions about what innovation and creativity are and do. Once again as is generally the case, Peter Drucker was at least 15-20 years ahead of his time, providing the “shoulders” to which a 12th century French monk, Bernard of Chartres,  once referred and on which so many prominent business thinkers now stand. In the article that follows, the focus is on Mozart but — once again — through the prism of Drucker’s original insights.

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“They showed no corrections of any kind. Not one. He had simply written down music already finished in his head.”

This line, from the film version of Amadeus, is how mediocre composer Antonio Salieri describes a musical score by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In real life,

Mozart’s work had plenty of false starts. Nevertheless, the idea of creativity being nearly heaven-sent is a persistent one across many fields. The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators, a new book by professors Jeff Dyer of Brigham Young University, Hal Gregersen of INSEAD and Harvard’s Clayton Christensen, offers a heftily-researched look at how innovation and creativity work. “Becoming a more innovative thinker takes patience and hard work,” explains an article about the book on CNNMoney. “Groundbreaking ideas, even those that look like bolts from the blue, usually come from painstaking preparation.”

Unfinished portrait of Mozart by Joseph Lange

This was a concept that Peter Drucker frequently emphasized, most prominently in his 1985 classic Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Companies that innovate successfully don’t view inspiration as mysterious and elusive—or get caught “waiting around,” as Drucker put it, “for the muse to kiss you.”

“They view it as the result of concerted effort and sound processes.  “Most of creativity is just hard and systematic work,” Drucker told an interviewer in 2000. “Innovation has to have a systematic approach.”

That approach doesn’t even have to be fleet-footed. “While others rush around in the frenzy and busyness which very bright people so often confuse with ‘creativity,’ the plodder puts one foot in front of the other and gets there first,” Drucker wrote in The Effective Executive.

Drucker ultimately identified a very particular course for the plodder to travel by spelling out seven specific sources of innovative opportunity.

“The line between these seven source areas . . . are blurred, and there is considerable overlap between them,” Drucker wrote. “They can be likened to seven windows, each on a different side of the same building.” They are:

Unexpected events (successes or failures)
Incongruities (or the difference between what is and what everybody assumes something to be)
Process needs (where you perfect a process that already exists or replace a link that is weak)
Disruptions in industry or market structure
Shifting demographics
Changes in perception
New knowledge (both scientific and nonscientific)

For those who are relatively unfamiliar with Peter Drucker’s work, I highly recommend The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management, published by Harper (2008). t is available in a softbound edition and for sale by Amazon for only $11.42


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