Monday, 20 April 2015

Adventures of a Bystander by Peter F. Drucker

It has been a slow read.I could read these 336 pages in 33 days, with an average of about 10 pages a day .Drucker has managed to introduce some interesting and fascinating  characters in this book.It is interesting to read the memoirs of a man who knew first hand Freud , Henry Luce of Time -Life -Fortune, Buckminster Fuller,Marshal  McLuhan,Alfred Sloan and FD Roosevelt. 
                  The Bystander sees things  neither actor nor audience notices.He sees things differently from the way actors or audience see.He reflects , and reflects not as a mirror reflects,but  as a prism does via refraction .The chances are more that a bystander writes more objectively and adds  those aspects  in his narrative which the actor himself may not have noticed.
                    In the chapter The Monster and the Lamb,Drucker  raises the question as to how we should deal with an evil like Nazis.Evil operates through the evil doer, but it also operates through the rest of us.There are among us great many trivial men of great evil , and very few Lady Macbeths.Men must not treat with evil on any terms-for the terms are always the terms of evil and never those of men.Man becomes the instrument of evil when he thinks to harness evil to his ambition(as was done by Hensches , the Monster);and he becomes the instrument of evil when he joins with evil to prevent worse.(as was done by Schaeffers,the Lamb)..But what about the sin of indifference when one refuses to bear witness when"They crucify my Lord."?Drucker asks us to pray to God to deliver us from evil , and leaves it at that.(Perhaps, like a true Bystander.)
                          In Ernest Freedberg's World,Drucker writes:"It was my job as the subordinate to make the boss effective, and not my job to reform him. . ."And more,"Still, though it lingered on ,the civilization that Freedberg,Parboom and Uncle Henry represented is gone or going.Our society has shifted to seeing symbols as real;the symbols have substance while the objects they represent  are mere shadows. . . Reality is created by manipulating symbols;history is made by staging" media events. . .writing grant applications has become the most honoured of the liberal arts Is  the ultra-nominalism that treats  symbols and images  as ultimate reality, and people and things  as shadows, still so" innocent" and innocuous when it has become the perception of the great majority?"
                       In the chapter       Henry Luce and Time-Life-Fortune , Drucker says what Luce might have said:"I do not care who shapes country's policies;let me shape its vision."Luce  did shape  country's vision through these three magazines.
                           Marshall McLuhan's most important message is that technology is an extension of man rather than  just a tool.It is not man's master.But it changes man and his personality, what  he is and what he perceives himself to be.It changes what man can do.Also , Buckminster Fuller and Marshall McLuhan exemplify the importance of being single-minded.The single-minded ones,the monomaniacs, are the only true achievers.
                                 In the chapter The Professional:Alfred Sloan  , he quotes Sloan:"You tell us what you think is right.Don't worry about who is right.Sloan also attached the highest importance to the decisions about people , about placement of people.Sloan  regarded it his duty not to have friends at the work place.You have to be impartial and must not even give  the appearance of having favourites.
                      What made people like Martin Luther King  was not just their intellect ,their scholarship and their uncompromising dignity.It was their integrity.It was the integrity out of which    Martin Luther King arose, the integrity that gave the Negro leaders their inner sovereignty and moral authority, not only among their own people but also in white America.Drucker brought out very powerfully the the role of integrity as the ultimate source of power and leadership.What a valuable lesson from a Bystander.
               I recommend you to read this book for the  valuable insights that only a sharp observer like Drucker  could  give.