Dr. Hermann Simon
"Man of the Past, Man of the Future" - Page 5

Drucker possesses yet another skill, which I have observed to such a great extent only in the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges: the skill of association.13 Borges seems not only to have read everything, but he also has the skill of making the most improbable connections and associations. In doing this, he surpasses time and space and recognizes relationships and analogies that escape the average person. The same is true for Peter Drucker. He draws parallels and recognizes commonalities between current, future and historical developments, stretching broad intellectual arches between them. Personalities such as Drucker und Borges seem to have encyclopedic memories. Yet this alone is not enough; the real skill is the ability to make connections. Arthur Koestler, whom I mentioned before, considers this competence the true source of creativity.14

Drucker’s new book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, bears witness to this skill. His consideration of information technology in light of the history of the printing trade leads to surprising conclusions. As he sees it, the winners of the IT revolution are not the hardware or software developers of today, but rather the publishing houses which have access to knowledge and content. In his book he lists Bertelsmann with Reinhard Mohn as an example. Bertelsmann is currently the largest publisher of English-language books in the world. Drucker’s choice pleased me personally, because I had just a few months before chosen Reinhard Mohn as the “Entrepreneur of the Century” for the largest German weekly newspaper, Die Zeit.15 But in this context, Drucker’s choice has a far greater weight.

13 See for example, Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Non-Fictions, New York: Viking 1999.
14 Arthur Koestler, Der götliche Funke, Munich: Scherz 1968.
15 Hermann Simon, “Fit für die Zukunft”, Die Zeit, 30 December 1998.