Shostack + Friends Blog Archive



The sad passing of Peter Drucker, and Paul Kedrosky’s post on it brought something into sharp focus for me. It’s the value of working hard to make yourself understood, as opposed to making your audience work hard to understand you.

One of my goals in blogging here is to learn to be understandable to the broadest set of people, while still insightful to practitioners in my field. I don’t always reach those goals, but I do try. There’s often a large backstory, and lots of technical detail to security issues. But that’s true of many things. And so I’m going to try too keep in mind what the Financial Times wrote of Drucker:

From his early writing days as a journalist in the 1930s to the very last years of his life, with several professorships and three dozen respected books behind him, he continued to believe that the best ideas have to be simplified, often to the limit, in order to be effective. When criticised in the 1980s for writing a cursory newspaper article about “the five rules of successful acquisitions”, he grinned ruefully and pronounced in typically gnomic Drucker-ese: “My best ideas have only one moving part.”

Mark Kleiman wrote something remarkably similar when Schelling won the Nobel prize:

Compared to the work of other social scientists and in particular other cutting-edge economists, Schelling’s work is unusually accessible. Lots of people who aren’t scholars by trade feel that they learned something important, something usable, from reading one or another of Schelling’s books or essays.

See a trend?