Isolation. How could they think like that? How could they make such a decision? How stupid are they?
Common questions that employees ask about management. All start from a rather nasty point of view but they get at a real problem. Executives have to isolate themselves from lower level workers, customers, suppliers and the general public. Drucker blames this problem on social isolation but it has a deeper cause, though a cause that may not have been as obvious in Drucker’s day. A fundamental issue is that of abstraction. Anyone who makes decisions from large amounts of information must traffic in abstractions. Abstractions inevitably hide information.
Drucker does see imagination as the cure for isolation and it is a good choice of word. It is the ability to make an accurate mental image from the material before you. Human contact is one way of getting that point of view for it can inculcate empathy, the ability to feel as others do. Still, the ability to imagine how others are thinking is not as easy as merely sharing conversation with different people about homes and children. It is one step, but not the last one. How do you tell the story of someone you don’t know well. Every narrative ultimately is a tale about the storyteller. It takes a lot of effort to understand that opinions, approaches and even conceptions that differ from our own can be honestly held.
I would have thought that Drucker, which his concern for metaphysics, would have thought more deeply about this.