Peter F. Drucker

Managing in Turbulent Times, reprinted 1993

In the twenty-five years after World War II, planning became fashionable. But planning, as commonly practiced, assumes a high degree of continuity. Planning starts out, as a rule, with the trends of yesterday and projects them into the future... using a different "mix" perhaps, but with very much the same elements and the same configuration. This is no longer going to work. The most probable assumption in a period of turbulence fence is the unique event which changes the configuration ...and unique events cannot, by definition, be planned. But they can be foreseen. This requires strategies for tomorrow, strategies that anticipate where the greatest changes are likely to occur and what they are likely to be, strategies that enable a business... or a hospital, a school, a university... to take advantage of new realities and to convert turbulence into opportunity.

A time of turbulence is a dangerous time, but its greatest danger is temptation to deny reality. The new realities fit neither the assumptions of the Left nor those of the Right. They do not mesh at all with "what everybody knows." They differ even more from what everybody, regardless of political persuasion, still believes reality to be. "What is" differs totally from what both Right and Left believe "ought to be." The greatest and most dangerous turbulence fence today results from the collision between the delusions of the decision makers, whether in governments, in the top management of businesses, or in union leadership, and the realities.

 

Loren Eiseley

The Invisible Pyramid, 1970, pp. 16 and 17

The evolutionary hero became a victim of his success and then could not turn backward; he prospered and grew too large and was set upon by clever enemies evolving about him. Or he specialized in diet, and the plants upon which he fed became increasingly rare. Or he survived at the cost of shutting out the light and eating his way into living rock like some mollusks. Or he hid in deserts and survived through rarity and supersensitive ears. In cold climates he reduced his temperature with the season, dulled his heart to long-drawn spasmodic effort, and slept most of his life away. Or, parasitically, he slumbered in the warm intestinal darkness of the tapeworm's eyeless world.

Restricted and dark were many of these niches, and equally dark and malignant were some of the survivors. The oblique corner with no outlet had narrowed upon them all. Biological evolution could be defined as one long series of specializations— hoofs that prevented hands, wings that, while opening the wide reaches of the air, prevented the manipulation of tools. The list was endless. Each creature was a tiny fraction of the life force; the greater portion had died with the environments that created them. Others had continued to evolve, but always their transformations seemed to present a more skilled adaptation to an increasingly narrow corridor of existence. Success too frequently meant specialization, ironically, was the beginning of the road to extinction. This was the essential theme that time had dramatized upon the giant stage.

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