Peter Drucker Forum 2013: “Good management requires no predictive power!” by Peter Gomez

peter gomez

Peter Gomez began his talk by decrying the fact that we seem to want more and more data. This is not what we need, in actual fact, we need to see patterns within business and society instead.


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We cannot rely on prediction, but we need to think about optimal simplification. Pattern recognition and optimal simplification are the keys to good management. Einstein said that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Therefore, we must get as close as possible to the threshold of simple making sense and not making sense.

Managers have less and less time and are forced to act without actually knowing where they are going. This leads to oversimplification, command, and control.

Abby law

Ashbys Law

Quoting Ashbys Law, Mr. Gomez said there is a need to understand variety in decision making in order to cope with complexity. He gives the example of traffic being more efficient with roundabouts rather than traffic lights because it requires drivers to think before they act within a complex system. Management should learn from this in decision making and should learn to decide just how complex the problem is before making a decision in order to adapt the methods accordingly. We also need to increase the accountability in our decision making as well as redraw the boundaries in our systems in order to isolate the generic patterns and finally identify pockets of order in the system.

Drucker Quote

Peter Drucker Quote

As a conclusion, Professor Gomez stated that good managers can do without predictions about the future but only if they follow Einstein’s simplification guideline and live up to Ashby’s Law. Also, early movers shape the future whereas followers can only be moderately successful in following.


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peter gomezPeter Gomez

Professor Emeritus of Management, University of St. Gallen

1947    August 23, born in St. Gallen, Switzerland1966 – 1975    Undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies, University of St. Gallen
1975 – 1976    Research fellow and part-time lecturer, University of St. Gallen
1977 – 1978    Visiting professor, State University of New York, Binghamton, USA
1979 – 1983    Senior Vice-President corporate planning and organization of Ringier Group, Zurich
1983 – 1989    Senior Vice-President corporate development and M&A of Distral Group, Zurich
1989 – 1990    Founding partner of Valcor AG, Zurich, consultants for strategic management and M&A
1990 – pres.    Professor at the University of St. Gallen, Director of the Institute of Management
1995 – 1998    Dean, Faculty of Business Administration, and Senior Vice-President, University of St. Gallen
1999 – 2005    President, University of St. Gallen
2005 – 2010    Dean,  Executive School of Management, Technology and Law, University of St. Gallen
2006 – 2007    Chairman of the Board of Directors, SWX Group Zurich and Eurex Zurich/Frankfurt
2008 – pres.    Chairman of the Board of Directors, SIX Group Zurich and Eurex Zurich/Frankfurt


Filed under Business, Conference, Corporate Behavior, Corporate strategy, Entrepreneurship, Higher Education, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Peter Drucker Forum, Strategy

3 responses to “Peter Drucker Forum 2013: “Good management requires no predictive power!” by Peter Gomez

  1. Good post. I would expand on Einstein’s statement you quoted to say that everything willbe made as simple as possible. That is why working with the tide of change results in intuitive, effective management that does not need to rely upon data. The data is only showing us what we should already know, that things are moving toward the simplest form that makes sense. I believe, however, data does help us to see the ways this reality is playing out in and between different markets, providing us with more pieces of the puzzle to springboard off of into innovative thought. If used properly, not to confirm that which you already know (simple form), but in search of unexpected interplays between established and emerging markets, data can be a driver of innovation.

    • Mark Thomas

      Thank you for your kind comments. I agree to you that data can add a lot to what we know if used and interpreted correctly. Best wishes, Mark

  2. Pingback: 1st EFMD America Conference: Executive Education and the Corporate Perspective | GlobalEd

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