The Drucker Forum and “Fin de Siècle” Vienna

European Straits #97

Nicolas Colin

Dear all,

I’m in snowy Vienna to participate in the 10th Global Peter Drucker Forum. I’ve already written about the event in a , but I can tell you again that it’s quite an impressive gathering: a stunning setting in the Hofburg with hundreds of participants and prominent thinkers coming from all over the world to discuss the legacy of Vienna-born Peter Drucker and reflect on challenges at the crossroads of corporate strategy, management, and entrepreneurship.

The Global Peter Drucker Forum

There are, I think, various factors in the Forum’s ongoing success. One is the timelessness of Drucker’s work, which, as argued in this article by Hermann Simon, can be explained by his command of history: relying on his historical knowledge made it possible for him to “elucidate the future in a way that is characteristic—with detailed and extensive knowledge, clever and unusual associations, and a willingness to immerse himself in ideas”.

Another factor is the resonance between the name of Peter Drucker and the city of Vienna: it would be much more difficult to attract so many speakers from the US if it wasn’t to gather in the Austrian capital where Drucker was born and where Europe’s fate took a turn for the worse almost one century ago.

Yet another factor is the relentless work of Richard Straub, who founded the Drucker Society Europe and the Forum 10 years ago. I’ve known Richard for only a few years, but I must say I’m impressed. An Austrian living in Paris, where he was long employed by an American company (IBM), Richard is fluent in German, English and French and is as cosmopolitan as Drucker himself (who lived in Austria, Germany, England, and eventually the US). Also, as a veteran of IBM, Richard is as versed in technology as he’s knowledgeable about business. Finally, his devotion to the legacy of Peter Drucker is infectious and probably explains why he’s been so successful at connecting with all those prominent professors and thought leaders that contribute to perpetuating Drucker’s legacy all over the world.

This is what I’m doing at the Forum:

  • Yesterday I participated in a community event by invitation of Pioneers, a student movement turned ecosystem builder. The format was a fireside chat with Betsy Ziegler, CEO of the Chicago-based 1871 incubator, and Jasmína Henniová of Pioneers to discuss “Inclusive Leadership: Nurturing Innovation Communities That Thrive”. I shared ideas right out of my book Hedge as well as our experience building a pan-European startup ecosystem as The Family.

  • Later today, I’ll be chairing an executive roundtable on “Leadership in a world of artificial intelligence and robotics”. Other participants are Tatyana Mamut (Founder, CultureRisk), Dorie Clarke (Marketing strategist), Sunnie Giles (President, Quantum Leadership Group), and John Hagel (Co-Chairman, Deloitte, Center for the Edge).

  • Tomorrow, I’ll participate in a panel on “Should Managers Be Activists?”, chaired by James Ashton, with Emmanuelle Duez (Founder, The Boson Project), Henry Mintzberg (of McGill University), Peter Oswald (CEO, Mondi Group), and Philip Kotler (of Northwestern University). I’ll be speaking about the need for business leaders to be more of activists in an economy where returns on invested capital depend on the engagement of the multitude of Internet users.

On this topic, you can read more in the article I wrote for the Drucker Forum’s blog: Fixing Today’s Economy Is About Humans, Not Technology.

Other talks and events

My colleague Léa Evrard and I learned so much during our 4-day trip in Israel that I’ve decided to expand our findings into a long-form article soon to be published on Medium. Hence contrary to what I wrote last week, I won’t share more ideas on startups in Israel this week. You’ll have to wait for this article "11 Notes on Israel" to be published, probably by the end of next week 😉.

Here are my next talks about my book Hedge:

  • 🇫🇷 On Thursday, December 6, I’ll be in Paris to talk about Hedge at the Fondation Jean-Jaurès, by invitation of my former colleague Adrienne Brotons. The Fondation is a think tank that has historically been close to the now-dying French Socialist Party. Because its political parent has become a shadow of its former self, I guess it’s currently trying to reallocate its resources to reviving progressive values in a post-Fordist world. And so a discussion inspired by Hedge seems quite relevant. If you’re in Paris next week, you can register following this link: Numérique, économie, modèles sociaux : débat avec Nicolas Colin.

  • 🇬🇧 Then on Monday, December 10, I’ll be in London for my first open talk about Hedge there. It’ll be at the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (Nesta), the organization in charge of promoting innovation in the UK. I’ll be chatting with Geoff Mulgan, the CEO of Nesta, and journalist Jenni Russell, a columnist at The Times. You can register by following this link: Hedge: A Greater Safety Net for the Entrepreneurial Age.

Don’t forget to buy a copy of Hedge if you don’t already have one! It’s on sale worldwide on every Amazon website: 🇺🇸US, 🇬🇧UK, 🇫🇷FR, 🇩🇪DE, 🇮🇹IT, 🇪🇸ES.

Further reading on Vienna

It’s hard to be in Vienna and not think about the great contrast between Fin de siècle Vienna, which was home to many great thinkers of the twentieth century, and the dark forces this city, once a hotbed of anti-Semitism, contributed to unleashing over Europe and the world. I thought I’d share a few articles around that:

Warm regards (from Vienna, Austria),

Nicolas