Great article just posted by mckinsey.com, authored by Peter Drucker in 1967. Below is a brief excerpt.
Also see The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management, The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done, Managing Oneself and The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization
December 1967 – Peter Drucker: The Manager And The Moron
As all of us know, during the last 20 years the free world has had the greatest, most sustained economic advance in history. Most of us believe that this has been a time not merely of forward movement, but of vast economic change.
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The facts and figures, however, do not support this impression. They show, instead, that our era has actually been a time of unprecedented non-change. It has been largely a period of linear forward movement along old trend lines, of adding new stories to an old building according to the old architectural design.
Peter Drucker projecting the economic trends
Imagine an economist in 1913, just before World War I, taking the economic trend lines of what were then already the advanced countries, and projecting each of them ahead to 1966. He would have hit it on the nose for Japan, Western Europe, and the United States, in fact for every one of the developed nations with one important exception—the Soviet Union, which is significantly below where it would have come out on our economist’s projection. The reason for this, as all of us know, was that the Russians imposed a political straitjacket on agriculture and froze farm technology just at the worst possible moment, when the technological revolution in farming was getting under way. Worse, they froze the agricultural population. By making it possible for anybody who stayed on the farm to be fed, no matter how poorly, they removed the economic pressure that elsewhere in the world has pushed the farmer off the farm, brought about fantastic productivity jumps in agriculture, and provided labor for the expansion of industry.
Suppose, again, that our economist, having made his projections in 1913, fell into a 50 years’ sleep. When he woke up, he would have found the industrial geography of the world virtually unchanged. Every country that is today an industrially advanced nation was well past the takeoff point in 1913. Not a single new one has joined the club, unless you count satellite economies like Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Mexico. Brazil, which has a long and distinguished history as a country of the future, may join the club tomorrow, but it isn’t quite there yet.
Peter Drucker: The Age of DIscovery
Compared to this linear movement, the 50 years before 1913 present the greatest imaginable contrast. During those five decades the industrial map of the world had been changing as rapidly as the physical map of the world changed in the fifteenth and the early sixteenth centuries—the Age of Discovery. Right after the Civil War, the United States and Germany emerged as economically advanced countries and rapidly overtook the old champion, Great Britain. A quarter of a century later Russia and Japan emerged, along with the western part of Austria-Hungary—the present Czechoslovakia and Austria, with Northern Italy. In short, the 50 years before 1913 were a period of very rapid shifts in economic power relationships.
See full Peter Drucker: The Manager And The Moron by mckinsey.com