What Peter Drucker Would Be Reading

Peter Drucker

Recent selections from around the web that, we think, would have caught Peter Drucker’s eye:

1. Trying to Redefine ‘Full-Time Work’: Under the Affordable Care Act, any organization with more than 50 full-time employees must offer health insurance or else pay a penalty of $2,000 to $3,000 per worker. Currently, the threshold for “full-time” is 30 hours per week. But now, notes Teresa Tritch of the New York Times, businesses are gaining traction in getting Washington to redefine “full-time” to mean 40 hours per week. Tritch worries that “raising the threshold would actually place more workers at risk of having their hours reduced. The result would be substantially less employer-sponsored coverage, which in turn, could cause a large increase in federal spending on subsidized coverage.”

2. Managing People on a Sinking Ship: It’s not a problem you want to have, but if you’re the boss of people in an organization that is going down the tubes, you can make things a lot less bad than they otherwise might be. Writing at the HBR Blog, Amy Gallo has a list of tips for those of us unfortunate enough to be at the helm at a bad time. “Focus people on a meaningful goal,” is one of them. Another one is tougher to pull off—at least in some cultures: “Be 100% honest about what you know—share any information you can.”

3. Chat and Text Have Turned the Period, Our Plainest Punctuation Mark, Into a Sign of Anger: If you’re having trouble keeping up with the latest communication mores, Ben Crair of the The New Republic has a lively and insightful piece about how we convey nuances of emotion in text messages. The period, which we use without much thought in ordinary correspondence or business writing, can look disapproving or worse when used in a text message. “In most written language, the period is a neutral way to mark a pause or complete a thought; but digital communications are turning it into something more aggressive,” Crair writes, calling it “an unlikely heel turn in linguistics.”

4. Dx Comment of the Week: Last week, when we examined the efforts of Sebastian Thrun, founder of Udacity, to reorient his online course offerings toward more vocational training, reader Deborah Hagar had this to say:

I actually participated in the earlier classes and did successfully complete one and earn a certificate. Professor Thrun is excellent and the quality of learning is outstanding.

I think the concept is excellent. It primarily needs different packaging. I disagree with just focusing on paid vocational training. I would recommend more experimentation with general interest learning (no charge) that exposes people more to technology learning and entices them to gain skills. Then I would recommend learning modules—with no charge to people who successfully complete the certification—and with a charge automatically applied if they do not. Then you can have industrial courses that are traditionally set for a fee.