The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials)
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What makes an effective executive?
The measure of the executive, Peter F. Drucker reminds us, is the ability to "get the right things done." This usually involves doing what other people have overlooked as well as avoiding what is unproductive. Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge may all be wasted in an executive job without the acquired habits of mind that mold them into results.Drucker identifies five practices essential to business effectiveness that can, and must, be learned:
- Managing time
- Choosing what to contribute to the organization
- Knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect
- Setting the right priorities
- Knitting all of them together with effective decision-making
Ranging widely through the annals of business and government, Peter F. Drucker demonstrates the distinctive skill of the executive and offers fresh insights into old and seemingly obvious business situations.
- Amazon Sales Rank: #3100 in Books
- Published on: 2006-01-03
- Released on: 2006-01-03
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: .1 pounds
- Binding: Paperback
- 208 pages
- ISBN13: 9780060833459
- Condition: New
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About the Author
Peter F. Drucker is considered the most influential management thinker ever. The author of more than twenty-five books, his ideas have had an enormous impact on shaping the modern corporation. Drucker passed away in 2005.
Most helpful customer reviews
199 of 202 people found the following review helpful.
Straight Talk About Increasing Your Executive Effectiveness
By Professor Donald Mitchell
Peter Drucker begins this book by pointing out that there is no science of how to improve executive effectiveness, nor any naturally-occurring effective executives. The redeeming point of this problem is that he argues that executive effectiveness can be learned.
The principles begin with a focus on time management. We can get greater quantities of every other resource we need, except time. Drucker reports that executives spend their time much differently than they think they do and much differently than they would like to. His solution is to begin by measuring how you spend your time, and compare it with an ideal allocation. Than begin to systematically get rid of the unimportant in favor of the important. His suggestions include stopping some things, delegation, creating policy decisions to replace ad hoc decisions, staying out of things that others should do, and so forth. Any student of time management will recognize the list he suggests. One of the best points is to give yourself large blocks of uninterrupted time to do more significant tasks. He also cautions us not to cut down on time spent with other people. If an hour is required, don't try to do it in 15 minutes.
Next, Drucker argues that we should focus on what will make a difference rather than unimportant questions. Otherwise, we will fill our time with motion rather than proceeding towards results.
Beyond that, he points out that we have to build on our own strengths and those of the people in our organization. That is how we can outperform the competition and accomplish much more.
We also need to be systems thinkers, getting to the core of the issue first. If we are weak on new products, we need to work on the new product development process before fine-tuning our marketing. If we reverse the order of these activities, our results will be far less.
Perhaps the best section in the book has to do with executive decision-making, when to make a decision, about what, and what principles to apply. If you only read this section, you would be well rewarded for studying this fine book.
I especially liked the familiar Drucker use of important historical examples to make his points. You'll remember the principles better because the examples are so vivid.
Although this book was written some time ago, it retains the strength of its insight today. Truly , this is a timeless way to achieve greater effectiveness.
You may be concerned about how you are going to learn to apply these concepts. That is actually quite easy. Drucker provides questions in each section that will guide you, step-by-step, to focus your attention on the most promising areas.
If you only read one book about how to improve your personal effectiveness as an executive, you will find this to be a rewarding choice.
102 of 105 people found the following review helpful.
More than 30 years old, but very true
Although Drucker wrote EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE more than 30 years ago, the principles of decision making are still relevant today, if not more so. The effective executive. . .
1) Knows where their time goes. Time is the most valuable resource and is inelastic. It must be managed. What has priority? What is better left undone? What can be outsourced?
2) Focuses on results (not effort) by asking:
"What do I do that justifies my being on the payroll?" (pg 53).
3) Staff to people's strength (not the absence of weakness).
There is no such thing as a "good man". Good at what? Likewise, a person is hired to produce results, not to please a superior, or blend in.
4) Fills the job with the right person (not fits the job to the available person). Jobs in the organization are interdependent; if one changes, it will affect another. Also, "To tolerate diversity, relationships must be task-focused rather than personality focused." (pg 77)
5) Tries to be himself / herself (not someone else). (S)He looks for patterns in their performance, and focus on their strengths. "Feed the opportunities and starve the problems." (pg 98)
6) Concentrates on one effort at a time. (not multi-tasking)
It is hard enough to do one thing right.
7) Concentrates on important and strategic decisions (not a great number of small, reactionary decisions). Many problems were created in the past, and solving them only re-establishes the status quo. It is better to seek opportunities than just fix problems.
8) Makes decisions based on dissenting opinions (not pseudo facts and pre-judgements) Use other's opinions to form a case for each side.
9) Acts or does not act (no hedging or compromise)
78 of 83 people found the following review helpful.
Effectiveness - doing the right things
By Avinash Sharma
"The Effective Executive" (1966) was the first book to define who an executive is and to explain the practices of effective executives. Today there are several in this genre. But this book was the first, as is the case with many of Drucker's masterpieces.
Drucker starts the book by stating that this book is about managing oneself and that executives who do not manage themselves cannot possibly expect to manage other people.
Efficiency vs. Effectiveness:
"Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things."
For manual work, efficiency was enough. In today world, the center of gravity has shifted from the manual worker to the "knowledge worker" (a term Drucker coined in the 60s). For knowledge work, effectiveness is more important than efficiency.
Who is an executive?
Executive = a knowledge worker who is ... responsible for contributions (decisions, actions) ... that have significant impact on ... performance and results of the whole organization (derived from pages 5 through 9).
1. Manage time
2. Focus on contributions and results
3. Build on strengths
4. Set the right priorities
5. Make effective decisions
1. Manage time:
"Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed" (page 51).
Chapter 2, Know Thy Time, starts with a three-step process - recording, managing and consolidating time. Drucker then states the factors that make time a unique resource - the supply of time is inelastic, time is perishable and cannot be stored, time is irreplaceable (i.e. has no substitute), all work takes place in and uses up time.
Drucker then explains time-diagnosis with questions for the executive:
a. What would happen if this were not done at all?
b. Which activities could be done by somebody else just as well, if not better?
c. (ask others) What do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness?
Drucker then explains the identification of time wasters caused by - lack of system, overstaffing, bad organization structure, malfunction in information. If you have spent time in meetings, you will surely be able to relate these concepts to your work. This chapter changed my perception of time as a resource.
2. Focus on contributions and results:
In chapter 3, What Can I Contribute?, Drucker stresses the importance of focusing outward, on contributions and results; as opposed to downward, on efforts. He proceeds to discussing the four basic requirements of effective human relations:
d. Development of others
3. Build on strengths:
"In every area of effectiveness within an organization, one feeds the opportunities and starves the problems" (page 98).
In chapter 4, Making Strengths Productive, Drucker explains that effective executives build on strengths and make weaknesses irrelevant. Decades after this book was written, researchers from Gallup arrived at the same result, published in the bestseller "First Break All the Rules"; confirming that Drucker was right all along.
Drucker proceeds to outline four rules for staffing from strength:
a. Make sure the job is well designed
b. Make the job challenging to bring out strengths
c. Have an appraisal policy to measure performance
d. Put up with weaknesses - the exception is a weakness in character and integrity, which causes disqualification.
4. Set the right priorities:
Chapter 4, First Things First, deals with concentration. Drucker explains that effective executives set the right priorities and stick to them. They concentrate on the areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results. They also set posteriorities - tasks not to tackle. In the section "sloughing off yesterday", Drucker states that effective executives ask "If we did not already do this, would we go into it now?" If the answer is no, the activity is dropped or curtailed. This concept is explained in more detail in Drucker's book titled "Managing For Results" (1964) as purposeful abandonment in chapter 9. America's best known CEO, GE's Jack Welsh, followed this practice when he got rid of GE businesses that could not be number one or two in their industries.
5. Make effective decisions:
"No decision has been made unless carrying it out in specific steps has become someone's work assignment and responsibility. Until then, there are only good intensions" (page 136).
In chapter 6, The Elements of Decision Making, Drucker explains his five step decision process:
a. Determine whether the problem is generic or unique
b. Specify the objectives of the decision and the conditions it needs to satisfy
c. Determine the right solution that will satisfy the specifications and conditions
d. Convert the decision into action
e. Build a feedback process to compare results with expectations
In chapter 7, Effective Decisions, Drucker states that a decision is a judgment, a choice between alternatives. He explains the importance of creating disagreement, rather than consensus. Drucker explains that disagreement provides alternatives and stimulates imagination.
"The first rule in decision making is that one does not make a decision unless there is disagreement" (page 148).
In the conclusion, Drucker states that effectiveness can and must be learned and that executive effectiveness is the best hope to make modern society productive economically and viable socially.
If you are an executive, you must read this book.