The man who saw tomorrow

Peter Drucker knew the work of organizations would be broken up as services, and the less management oversight, the better.

'Worker, manage thyself. Organization, get out of the way.'

That was the credo of Peter Drucker, one of the great management thinkers of our time. Fellow ZDNet blogger Phil Wainewright posts a fitting tribute to Drucker, who died on Friday.

Drucker was a proponent of automation and system-driven processes, but knew that the only way to assure success as technology took over was to unleash the power and innovation of the individual. Outmoded industrial-era management had to be vanquished. Information was becoming the new commodity, and it took motivated knowledge workers to wring value out of it.  Teamwork and cooperation -- not command and control -- would bring profits to the online organization.

I recall one of Drucker's ground-breaking articles that ran in Harvard Business Review in 1988 on "The Coming of the New Organization." He predicted that 20 years out (from 1988), large organizations would have far fewer traditional managers that regulated the activities of other people. Instead, work would be done by self-managed knowledge specialists brought together in task forces that cut across traditional departments.

We are all becoming both producers and consumers of Web services and SOA components, and will be constantly forming and disbanding ad-hoc teams from across our organizations and industries to get things done. Web services and SOA are a huge nail in the coffin of command-and-control, centralized and out-of-touch management. We can thank Drucker for providing the thought leadership for this new way of doing business.

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