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Are You a Dinosaur in the Making? Pay Attention to How You Learn.

“Show me a company that’s been in business for 50 years and I’ll show you a company on its way out of business,” said management guru Peter Drucker in the 1980’s. Twenty-five years and a host of Fortune 50 companies later, we see that Mr. Drucker was right. His theory was that big companies get arrogant,  stop listening to customers and fail to innovate. So how do we keep ourselves from becoming complacent? We do that by constantly learning.

I recently came across an article Drucker wrote called,”Managing Oneself”, in the June 20005 issue of the Harvard Business Review. In it, he says that each of us should understand how we learn. As a person who was trained as a teacher, I know that certain people learn by seeing and others by listening. But I had not heard about two other ways in which many people learn; by writing or reading.

This comes as some comfort to me as I am a reader. I take in everything and somehow digest it. If I attend a class or a lecture, I need to take notes and then go back and read them over.

His article talks about how President Kennedy was a reader and so he surrounded himself with writers. When President Johnson, a listener, took over the Presidency, he kept the writers, but did not learn from them the way Kennedy had. Lyndon Johnson “destroyed his presidency by not knowing that he was a listener,” Drucker observes.

He goes on to say that most knowledge workers don’t understand how they learn and therefore fail to perform well consistently over time. Our work and our personal relationships could improve if we know ourselves better. Please share with me about how you learn and work to avoid becoming a dinosaur.


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