As we always do after one of our Drucker Institute Forums, we recently called the 17 executives who’d joined us in Claremont to ask a simple question: “What did you do on Monday that was different?”
More than ever before, the results floored us.
During this follow-up, we typically hear from a handful of Forum attendees who tell us how they took an idea from the gathering and put it into action—the key measure of our impact. This time, though, a full three-quarters of the participants from our November 2012 event, chaired by Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren and titled “Winning Over the Customer,” reported doing something truly significant when they returned to their organizations.
A major financial-services firm is rethinking its entire approach to more than 3 million customer accounts. One of the world’s largest professional services companies has created its first formal research and development position. A leading humanitarian aid organization is using our Drucker-based tools to better focus its strategy on the people it serves in dozens of countries around the world. And on and on it goes.
Not surprisingly, since getting this wonderful feedback, we’ve been asking ourselves: Why did things go so well? What was the secret?
Our conclusion: No one thing accounts for this jump in performance. Rather, it reflects the steady refinement of our process after each of the six Forums we’ve held—a tweak to an exercise, a small change to the flow of the event.
When we devised the Forums three years ago, it was an innovation—a whole new way to integrate Peter Drucker’s timeless wisdom with peer-to-peer coaching and cutting-edge adult learning design.
But what we’ve figured out is that an innovation’s impact often doesn’t show up right away. It takes time. It takes steady work.
“Whatever an enterprise does internally and externally needs to be improved systematically and continuously: product and service production processes, marketing, service, technology, training and development of people, using information,” Drucker wrote. “Continuous improvements in any area eventually transform the operation.”
So if you find yourself waiting for a really great idea to bear fruit, don’t fret. Keep tending to it; the harvest will come.
Rick Wartzman and Zach First
Executive Director and Managing Director