Drucker is my consultant (con't)
I was glad for having this opportunity, therefore, I rushed into discussion of cooperation details with the college.
Once Drucker got informed with this business plan, he asked me, “Why do you need them? What kind of assistance provided by the college do you expect? Can they meet your expectation?” I answered “yes” to all these questions of Drucker affirmatively. But Drucker neglected my answers and kept on asking, “ Why do they need you? Can you satisfy them? What can you contribute to the success of the project? Do they agree with your point of view?”
However, this time I was not certain with the answer “yes”. Was the college trying to break into the market of China through me? Do they really see eyes to eyes with our course planning? Are they simply trying to recruit students through us? Or all of above are the reasons for them to join hands with us?
I admitted all questions of Drucker’s were good and sharp; nevertheless, I was eager to cooperate with the college, and Drucker failed to stop me this time. Three years later, by the graduation of the second MBA class, this American college has gained fame in China and decided to terminate the contract with us. They joined hands with another Chinese public university. Learning from this failure, since then I would go through all of the above questions raised by Drucker, every time I was planning to join hands with other organizations. Drucker’s questions are concerned about whether both parties share same sets of values and similar targets.
I was an aggressive person who was driven to finish as much as possible within a short period of time. After Drucker met me for the first time, he soon recognized this weakness of mine. Until one day when we met again, as soon as I sat down, he said,”
My friend, you look tired and exhausted, you always kick started different sorts of things at the same time, you can achieve everything with good results; however, none of them are finished outstandingly. How long has it been since you last vacation with your wife? You will burn out if you keep on like this, and your wife will get mad at you as well.”
Before we ended our meeting that day, Drucker asked me what would be my most important task when I went back to China? I told him I would spend a week in south of China, pay visit to 10 of the companies that had joined our classes, to listen to their comments on our courses. He let me write down the names of these 10 companies and asked, “ What will you do if you receive an urgent call once you get off the plane, and need to compress the 10-day trip into 4-day?” I said I could only visit lesser amount of company. Then, he asked me to wipe out the relatively less important clients. But as soon as I finished what he asked me to do, he asked me again, if I was informed to squeeze the 4-day trip into 2-day, and have to make sure I was able to spend a reasonable time span with all clients, within such short span of time, who would you pay the visit? This game may only takes a few minutes, but it did inspire me to rethink, how can I simplify and condensate the things that are needed to be done, and how can I be focus on some of the most quintessential tasks, while leave enough quality time for each important task?
Above are some of the intriguing incidents happening during the period of Drucker being my consultant, and they showed how Drucker lead me to discover the “real questions” hidden behind the façade, through Socratic way of questioning. Sometimes Drucker would get to the core of the matter with direct and sharp tongue. Sometimes he would induce the listener to contemplate on the matter, and get to the “real questions” in the end. For instance, in the first story I shared in this article, Drucker believed that the act of finding the “real problem” through asking “the right questions”, is far more important than bringing forth the solution to the question. If you are set to solve type A question, while bring forth the solutions for type B question, you are destined to lead the wrong way. Thanks to the wisdom and patience of Mr Drucker, until now Drucker Academy has trains up more than 10,000 managers in China each year over the course of 17-year development.
Although Mr Drucker is no longer with us, I still remember by heart the question he asked me every time when our meeting came to an end, “Is everything I said to you today is important to you? “ No doubt, all of his sharing is useful, regardless of my level of acceptance and understanding by the time.
Author: Shao Ming Lo
Founder of Peter F. Drucker Academy
Chairman of Bright China Group
The article is excerpted from Business Review