The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

by Peter F. Drucker
The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

by Peter F. Drucker

Paperback(Revised)

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Overview

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.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060833459
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 01/03/2006
Series: HarperBusiness Essentials Series
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 53,999
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

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.

Read an Excerpt

Effectiveness Can Be Learned

To be, effective is the job of the executive. "To effect" and "to execute" are, after all, near-synonyms. Whether he works in a business or in a hospital, in a government agency or in a labor union, in a university or in the army, the executive is, first of all, expected to get the right things done. And this is simply that he is expected to be effective.

Yet men of high effectiveness are conspicuous by their absence in executive jobs. High intelligence is common enough among executives. Imagination is far from rare. The level of knowledge tends to be high. But there seems to be little correlation between a man's effectiveness and his intelligence, his imagination or his knowledge. Brilliant men are often strikingly ineffectual; they fail to realize that the brilliant insight is not by itself achievement. They never have learned that insights become effectiveness only through hard systematic work. Conversely, in every organization there are some highly effective plodders. While others rush around in the frenzy and busyness which very bright people so often confuse with "creativity," the plodder puts one foot in front of the other and gets there like the tortoise in the old fable.

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.

WHY WE NEED EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVES
All this should be obvious. But why then has so little attention been paid to effectiveness, in an age in which there are mountains of books and articles on every other aspect of the executive's tasks?

One reason for this neglect is thateffectiveness is the specific technology of the knowledge worker within an organization. Until recently, there was no more than a handful of these around.

For manual work, we need only efficiency; that is, the ability to do things right rather than the ability to get the right things done. The manual worker can always be judged in terms of the quantity and quality of a definable and discrete output, such as a pair of shoes. We have learned how to measure efficiency and how to define quality in manual work during the last hundred years-to the point where we have been able to multiply the output of the individual worker tremendously.

Formerly, the manual worker-whether machine operator or front-line soldier-predominated in an organizations. Few people of effectiveness were needed: those at the top who gave the orders that others carried out. They were so small a fraction of the total work population that we could, rightly or wrongly, take their effectiveness for granted. We could depend on the supply of "naturals," the few people in any area of human endeavor who somehow know what the rest of us have to learn the hard way.

This was true not only of business and the army. It is hard to realize today that "government" during the American Civil War a hundred years ago meant the merest handful of people. Lincoln's Secretary of War had fewer than fifty civilian subordinates, most of them not "executives' and policy-makers but telegraph clerks. The entire Washington establishment of the U.S. government in Theodore Roosevelt's time, around 1900, could be comfortably housed in any one of the government buildings along the Mall today.

The hospital of yesterday did not know any of the "health-service professionals," the X-ray and lab technicians, the dieticians and therapists, the social workers, and so on, of whom it now employs as many as two hundred and fifty for every one hundred patients. Apart from a few nurses, there were only cleaning women, cooks and maids. The physician was the knowledge worker, with the nurse as his aide.

In other words, up to recent times, the major problem o organization was efficiency in the performance of the manual worker who did what he had been told to do. Knowledge workers were not predominant in organization.

In fact, only a small fraction of the knowledge workers of earlier days were part of an organization. Most of them worked by themselves as professionals, at best with a clerk. Their effectiveness or lack of effectiveness concerned only themselves and affected only themselves.

Today, however, the large knowledge organization is the central reality. Modem society is a society of large organized institutions. In every one of them, including the armed services, the center of gravity has shifted to the knowledge worker, the man who puts to work what he has between his ears rather than the brawn of his muscles or the skill of his hands. Increasingly, the majority of people who have been schooled to use knowledge, theory, and concept rather than physical force or manual skill work in an organization and are effective insofar as they can make a contribution to the organization.

Now effectiveness can no longer be taken for granted. Now it can no longer be neglected.

Table of Contents

1. Effectiveness Can Be Learned
2. Know Thy Time
3. What Can I Contribute?
4. Making Strength Productive
5. First Things First
6. The Elements of Decision-making
7. Effective Decisions
Conclusion: Effectiveness Must Be Learned
Index

Reading Group Guide

"An intelligent, authoritative, and original guide." --Washington Post
The measure of the executive is the ability to "get the right things done." In this book, Peter Drucker identifies five practices essential to business effectiveness that can, and must, be learned: time management, choosing what to contribute to a particular organization, knowing where and how to mobilize strength for the best effect, setting up the right priorities, and knitting all of these together with effective decision making. Drucker ranges widely through the annals of business and government to demonstrate the distinctive skill of the executive…and inspire workers at every level to put these principles into practice.

Questions for Discussion

  • "Management books usually deal with managing other people. The subject of this book is managing oneself for effectiveness." Does Peter Drucker successfully support this theory throughout the book? What were your perceptions of management prior to reading The Effective Executive? Has your opinion changed in any way?

  • Drucker states, "I have not come across a single 'natural': an executive who was born effective." He then goes on to say that "there seems to be little correlation between a man's effectiveness and his intelligence, his imagination or his knowledge." In your opinion, are effective executives always "made," as Drucker suggests? Do you think there are qualities inherent in certain people that make them more effective executives than others?

  • Discuss the five principles Drucker outlines as essential for effectiveness. Which one did you find the most surprising? Did youdisagree with any of the principles?

  • "Most books on decision-making tell the reader: 'First find the facts.' But executives who make effective decisions know that one does not start with facts. One starts with opinions." Do you agree with this statement? How does Drucker support his position on this?

  • Drucker maintains that this book can be used by workers at every level, not just CEOs and other high-ranking executives. Do you agree? What makes Drucker's advice universal? About the Author: Peter F. Drucker's management books and analyses of economics and society are widely read and respected throughout the world and have been translated into more than twenty languages. He has been a frequent contributor to various magazines and journals over the years and was an editorial columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Since 1971, he has been Clark University Professor of Social Science at Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Claremont, California.

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