Thoughts on Drucker’s “Turbulent Times”

KiKi L'Italien

What does it mean to lead in turbulent times?

One of the things I enjoy most about working with my colleagues at Tecker International (TI) is the heady conversations we have when all the consultants get together.

Opinions are most definitely not stifled – even when they differ between us.

Part of what brings us to TI is that we have forged our way independently in our experiences, as well as in our thought processes so that each person involved in our group conversations could likely write a book about the topic at hand (if they haven’t already).

With so many opinions and personalities, I thought it would be fun to get their different perspectives on one of management guru Peter Drucker’s quotes from his writing on managing in turbulent times.

“In turbulent times, managers cannot assume that tomorrow will be an extension of today.”

To get a flavor for my colleagues’ personalities, I am posting the various quotes below. I briefly considered trying to make this a mix-and-match challenge for folks who know each person well but decided against it. Maybe next time.

Hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoyed collecting them!

The TI Team Responds to Drucker’s “Turbulent Times” Quote

“Your view depends on whether you approach Drucker’s famous quote as a manager, a philosopher, or a psychologist.

When are times not turbulent for somebody? When is anything not based on things that led up to it? “Resulting from” or “due to” or “enabled by” are different from an “extension of”.

When events are moving fast sometimes you can’t see the steps that led up to the current condition of which you have become aware.

Heraclitus was correct: the only constant is change itself. The key variables affecting perception of change are probably speed and volume.” – Glenn Tecker

“Managers (leaders) will never again be able to assume that tomorrow is an extension of today.” – Cheryl Williams

‘How about “Leaders should never assume anything”.’ – Michael Anderson

“During turbulent times, leaders should seize opportunities and enjoy new adventures.” – Sharon Cox

“Why just in “turbulent” times?  Tomorrow will always be different than today.  True leaders learn how to use what has been observed from the past and present to adapt to an unknown future.  I sometimes ask my kids “what did you learn today that you did not know yesterday and how will you use that tomorrow”?  I usually get a solid eye roll.” – Jim Meffert

“Tomorrow is always different. The amount of different can be tiny or enormous. I different board member, different staff member, new federal or state regulation are one level. COVID 19 is another level. Complacency is believing that tomorrow will resemble today. And in good times it is easy to be comfortable and complacent.” – Donna Dunn

“Scarlett O’Hara:  Tomorrow is another day!” – Leigh Wintz

My Turn

It wouldn’t be right to post my colleagues’ responses without sharing my own.

I read Drucker’s quote as a warning. As we brace ourselves for what is to come during this pandemic, we cannot make the mistake of imagining that all rules remain the same.

Rules about where we work, how we work, and the way we connect may forever be altered by what we are going through today – and the truth is, they probably will be altered.

So to imagine tomorrow as an “extension” of today by rote is foolhardy and potentially dangerous for those in the position to make decisions that impact their memberships, industries, and the lives of all involved.

To end on a high note, I’ll admit I feel that we can make positive decisions that will help some of our organizations to grow in ways we can’t even imagine right now. But it takes a clear vision, a steady hand, and the willingness to make difficult decisions in the face of uncomfortable truths.

Thankfully, there are methods and tools to make that vision clearer – that’s the work that my colleagues and I enjoy most! But we have to recognize that there are no promises on what tomorrow will bring and go from there.

Or as Leigh Wintz shared from Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”