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. The Dawn of the Age of Artificial Intelligence: Do you think that a computer winning Jeopardy! or driverless cars are cool? Actually, “they’re the warm-up acts,” argue Erik Brynjolfsson, chair of the MIT Sloan Management Review, and Andrew McAfee, a principal research scientist, in an article for The Atlantic excerpted from their new book, The Second Machine Age. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you find their arguments encouraging or frightening. “The second machine age will be characterized by countless instances of machine intelligence and billions of interconnected brains working together to better understand and improve our world,” the authors write. “It will make mockery out of all that came before.”

2. Do Millennials Believe in Data Security?: Millennials are quite aware—more aware than most generations—of all the risks of failing to be mindful of online security. And yet, notes Sarah Green of Harvard Business Review, they are especially careless. Linking to a new survey from Softchoice, Green notes that, in every way measured, “the youngest workers were the most likely to lose data or leave themselves open to hacking.” So what gives? Green suspects fatalism is at play: “When major data breaches and password hacks are announced regularly by major corporations, when the NSA is listening in on your phone calls, when Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are leaking secret government documents, and when absolutely everyone, from your dentist to your hairdresser, asks for your Social Security number—does it really matter if your password is taped to your screen?”

3. Think Your Product Is Too Boring for Word of Mouth Marketing? Think Again: When people talk or write about products they buy or use, they’re a lot more likely to pick the iPhone as a topic than they are to pick Crest toothpaste. Interesting products inspire the most chatter, not surprisingly, and boring products inspire the least. Why does this matter? Because word-of-mouth marketing is by far the most effective way to grow interest and sales for what you’re selling. Still, argue Jonah Berger and Raghuram Iyengar, both professors of marketing at Wharton, sellers of boring stuff should take heart. Their paper, “Communication Channels and Word of Mouth: How the Medium Shapes the Message,” gets written up in [email protected], and one of its insights is this: People are much more likely to zero in on “interesting” products in online interactions, but in offline interactions—around the water cooler, say—they can, if encouraged with the right triggers, also gravitate to the boring stuff. So get those conversations about dental floss going?

4. Dx Comment of the Week: Last week, when we looked at the effect of negative behaviors in the workplace and asked readers what priority they assign to weeding them out, reader Frank Fabela had this to say:

Negative behavior ought to be addressed, but, as a matter of priority, it becomes more of an issue when it is the cause of suppressed results or it is destroying people. And when business results are [not] being achieved, it is then time to look under the hood at what factors are affecting the corporate culture and to tune up those that are impeding excellence.