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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Effectiveness - doing the right things,
This review is from: The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Paperback)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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The true dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.",
This review is from: The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Paperback)Note: The title of this review is a portion of one of Peter Drucker's most important insights: "The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The true dangerous thing is asking the wrong question."
* * *
I first read this book when it was originally published in 1967 and have since re-read it several times because, in my opinion, it provides some of Peter Drucker's most important insights on how to "get the right work done and done the right way." By nature an "executive" is one who "executes," producing a desired result (an "effect") that has both impact and value. As Drucker once observed in an article that appeared in Harvard Business Review at least 40 years ago, "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." Therefore, the effective executive must develop sound judgment. Difficult - sometimes immensely difficult - decisions must be made. Here are eight practices that Drucker recommended 45 years ago:
o Ask, "what needs to be done?"
o Ask, "What is right for the enterprise?"
o Develop an action plan
o Take responsibility for decisions.
o Take responsibility for communications.
o Focus on opportunities rather than on problems.
o Conduct productive meetings.
o Think in terms of first-person PLURAL pronouns ("We" rather than "I").
The first two practices give executives the knowledge they need; the next four help them convert this knowledge into effective action; the last two ensure that the entire organization feels responsible and accountable, and will thus be more willing to become engaged. "I'm going to throw in one final, bonus practice. This one's so important that I'll elevate it to the level of a rule: [begin italics] Listen first, speak last." [end italics]
This volume consists of eight separate but interdependent essays that begin with "Effectiveness Can Be Learned" and conclude with "Effective Decisions." Actually, there is a "Conclusion" in which Drucker asserts that "Effectiveness Must Be Learned." I agree. The essays are arranged in a sequence that parallels a learning process that prepares an executive to "assume responsibility, rather than to act the subordinate, satisfied only if he `pleases the boss.' In focusing himself and his vision on contribution the executive, in other words, has to think through purposes and ends rather than means alone."
I highly recommend this to all executives who need an easy-to-read collection of reminders of several basic but essential insights from one of the most important business thinkers, Peter Drucker. I also presume to suggest that they, in turn, urge each of their direct reports to obtain a copy and read it. The last time I checked, Amazon sells a paperbound edition for only $11.55. Its potential value is incalculable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly one of the great classics,
This review is from: The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Paperback)One of my favorite authors is Peter F. Drucker. I recently re-read his book, "The Effective Executive â" The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done" (this plays perfectly into my theme of time leadership. Leadership is the working on the right things versus Management which is doing things right.) Effectiveness is more important than efficiency.
According to Peter Drucker, effective executives follow the same eight practices:
They asked, "What needs to be done?"
They asked, "What is right for the enterpise?"
They developed action plans.
They took responsibility for decisions.
They took responsibility for communicating.
They were focused on opportunities rather than problems
They ran productive meetings.
They thought and said "we" rather than âaeIâ.
I particularly liked his view on taking responsibility for decisions.
"A decision has not been made until people know:
The name of the person accountble for carrying it out;
The deadline; the names of the people who will be affected by the decision and therefore have to know about, understand, and approve it â" or at least not be strongly opposed to it; The names of the people who have to be informed of the decision, even if they are not directly affected by it."
"Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results. By themselves, they only set limits to what can be attained."
I could continue regurgitating and typing most of the book; however, I think it is such an excellent book that you should read it yourself.
Because I have been swamped lately, I resonated with one of his comments which was executives' time tend to belong to everybody else. Of course I blog about time management so part of time management is to figure out how to get control of time even though according to Drucker, the time actually belongs to everyone else.
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The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter F Drucker (Paperback - Dec 21 2005)
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