Sam Walton may have been the grand master of absorbing good ideas of others and then spreading the ideas across the company. Another master was Jack Welch:
(p. 383) Getting every employee’s mind into the game is a huge part of what the CEO job is all about. Taking everyone’s best ideas and transferring them to others is the secret. There’s nothing more important. I tried to be a sponge, absorbing and questioning every good idea. The first step is being open to the best of what everyone , everywhere, has to offer. The second is transferring that learning across the organization.
Welch, Jack. Jack: Straight from the Gut. New York: Warner Business Books, 2001.
See also pp. 197-198 for Welch’s description of the specifics of how Wal-Mart got this job done.
For even more details, see: Walton, Sam. Made in America: Doubleday, 1992.
1999 photo of Drucker from NYT online article cited below.
Peter F. Drucker, the political economist and author, whose view that big business and nonprofit enterprises were the defining innovation of the 20th century led him to pioneering social and management theories, died yesterday at his home in Claremont, Calif. He was 95.
For the full obituary, see:
BARNABY J. FEDER. “Peter F. Drucker, a Pioneer in Social and Management Theory, Is Dead at 95.” The New York Times ( November 12, 2005) online version dowloaded from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/12/business/12drucker.html?pagewanted=1
Peter Drucker is sometimes given credit for helping keep the ideas of Schumpeter alive, and helping spur their revival in the 1980s. See Drucker’s article:
Drucker, Peter F. “Modern Prophets: Schumpeter or Keynes?” Reprinted as Ch. 12 in The Frontiers of Management. New York: Penguin Putnam, Inc., 1986, pp. 104-115 (originally published as: “Schumpeter and Keynes.” Forbes (May 23, 1983): 124-128).