The Effective Executive – Peter F. Drucker

The Effective Executive – Peter F. Drucker

Management books typically focus on managing other individuals (that’s what the majority of managers do – not lead, manage), the subject of The Effective Executive is on managing oneself for overall effectiveness.

Executives are knowledge workers, not task rabbits.

Effectiveness can be learned.

Effectiveness largely depends on one’s ability to be effective in a specific organization – culture and fit matters, a lot.

Intelligence, creativity and knowledge are essential to the executive, but only effectiveness can convert them into results.

Action over ideas.

Manual or administrative work only needs efficiency; the ability to do the right things rather than the ability to get the right things done.

During the Industrial Era, the major problem of organizations was efficiency of manual workers. Managers were employed to tell these workers what to do.

The idea of a traditional manager is nearly obsolete if an organization hires competent individuals to perform the work they are given.

Managers are stuck in ‘managing’ knowledge workers, which is a flawed system. Managers want strategic workers, but continue to manage them like efficiency-centered robots.

“What seems to be wanted is universal genius, and the universal genius has always been in scarce supply. The experience of the human race indicates strongly that the only person in abundant supply is the universal incompetent.”

Habits of the mind that have to be acquired to be an effective executive:

  1. Effective executives know where their time goes. They work systematically at managing the little time they have
  2. Focus on outward contribution. They gear their efforts to results rather than to work.
  3. Build on strengths – their own strengths and those of their superiors, colleagues, and subordinates. And on strengths in the situation. They do not build on weaknesses. They do not start out with the things they cannot do.
  4. Concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results. Set priorities and stay with their priority decisions. They know that they have no choice but to do first things first – and second things not at all. The alternative is to get nothing done.

The plans always remain on paper, always remain good intentions. They seldom turn into achievement.

To be effective, the executive needs to be able to dispose of time in fairly large chunks.

G: if you say you don’t have time and don’t want to give up something else to make that time then you don’t really want to do the new thing. Time is simply prioritizing. Spending too much time on one task or having not enough time to perform a task means prioritization is not aligned.

Learn to say “no” if an activity contributes nothing to one’s own organization, to oneself, or to the organization for which it is to be performed.

Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.

Because information has to be handled and transmitted by people, it is always distorted by communications; that is, by opinion, impression, comment, judgment, bias, and so on.

To focus on contribution is to focus on effectiveness.

Human excellence can only be achieved in one area, or at the most in very few.

By themselves, character and integrity do not accomplish anything. But their absence faults everything else.

All one can measure is performance. And all one should measure is performance.

Staffing the opportunities instead of the problems not only creates the most effective organization, it also creates enthusiasm and dedication.

In every area of effectiveness within an organization, one feeds the opportunities and starves the problems.

Today is always the result of actions and decisions taken yesterday. Yesterday’s actions and decisions, no matter how courageous or wise they may have been, inevitably become today’s problems, crises, and stupidities.

Effective executives do not make a great many decisions. They concentrate on the important ones. They try to think through what is strategic and generic, rather than “solve problems”

Unless a decisions has been “degenerated into work” it is not a decision; it is at best a good intention

Miracles are a problem, not in that they do not happen, in that we cannot rely on them.

The trouble with miracles is not, after all, that they happen rarely; it is that one cannot rely on them.

A decision will not become effective unless the action commitments have been built into the decision from the start. No decision has been made unless carrying it out in specific steps has become someone’s work assignment and responsibility. Until then, they are only good intentions.

Reality never stands still very long.

One builds one’s feedback around direct exposure to reality

If a decision is made and no action is to be taken, reality will be that no decision has been made.

A decisions is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between right and wrong. It is at best a choice between “almost right” and “probably wrong” – but much more often a choice between two courses of action neither of which is probably more nearly right than the other.

Executives who make effective decisions know that one does not start with facts. One starts with opinions. These are, of course, nothing but untested hypotheses and, as such, worthless unless tested against reality.

The first rule of decision-making is that one does not make a decision unless there is a disagreement.

G: person who disagrees with you is not dumb they just see a different reality than you.

The executive must first be concerned with understanding before he can even think about who is right or wrong. G: lots of people won’t change opinion even when exposed to reality.

No matter how high his emotions run, no matter how certain he is that the other side is completely wrong and has no case at all, the executive who wants to make the right decisions forces himself to see opposition as his means to think through the alternatives. He uses conflict of opinion as his tool to make sure all major aspects of an important matter are looked at carefully.

There is one final question the effective decision-maker asks: “Is a decision really necessary?” One alternative is always the alternative of doing nothing.

Organization requires hierarchy.




The Inner Game of Tennis – W. Timothy Gallwey

The Inner Game of Tennis – W. Timothy Gallwey

Conventional wisdom is (slightly) wrong.

“You won’t be successful unless you try hard.”

Top performers actually try less hard when competing (in-the-zone).

When competing, we are playing two game: an outer game against our opponent, and an inner game against ourselves.

The inner game is played with Self 1, the teller, and Self 2, the do-er.

Performing at the highest level requires letting Self 2 operate unconsciously of Self 1.

The role of Self 1 is to learn and process, while Self 2 operates on these inputs.

Choking occurs when the mind allows Self 1 to perform actions. Think: when letting your golf stroke flow via muscle memory versus telling your arms and legs what to do.

Performing with emotions can be detrimental. Emotions are not bad, per se, but if they are the driver during the performance, you are likely to fail.

Emotions are evaluations added to the event in the mind, based off individual reactions – why some players in a game seem stoic or non-emotional.

Having Judgement is the act of assigning a positive or negative value to an event. For Self 2 to perform without assistance of Self 1, it must not be in relation to +/- event.

Letting go of judgement is acknowledging errors while also seeing events as a result and not adding to them. Judgement leads to emotion, which can lead to overreaction.

No one is ever surprised at seeing something they already know.

Even if you know what is wrong it is hard to fix because doing and knowing are performed by a different Self.

A child’s process in learning to walk is never hindered by the idea that she is uncoordinated. A child does not think she is uncoordinated, she simply tries to walk. She has no memory of not being able to walk.

The actions of Self 2 are based on information it has stored in its memory of past actions of itself or of the observed actions of others.

Professional sports are a winner’s game.

A winner is always competing against the best, trying to win at every moment. Once you become competent, it is easy to play a defensive style and win against an inferior opponent. To beat 99.9% of opponents, you must only need to be competent at the game.

As Gladwell noted in Outliers, the top 0.01% have amassed far over 10,000 hours and have a team (coaches, therapists, parents, peers) working in their favor.

Case: to be successful in any given field – recreational tennis – all one needs to do is become competent. A defensive player waits for his opponent to make an error, wearing him down by responding reactively.

A couch (acting as Self 1) gives permission to Self 2 to operate without heavy analysis.

The Inner Game Way of Learning:

  1. observe existing behavior nonjudgmentally (Self 1 input)
  2. picture desired outcome (Self 1 transferring to Self 2)
  3. let it happen (Self 2 performing)
  4. nonjudgmental, calm observation of the results leading to continuing observation and learning

To deepen concentration, focus on what is not easily perceived. In tennis, focus on the seams of the ball spinning rather than the ball-to-racket connection.

Focused concentration is focusing on what is happening in-the-now. During the moment, say a tennis match, the mind should be trained on the moment. The mind has great capabilities of wondering and projecting what will happen. Win the play is an example of focusing on the now. Projecting what will happen later is invaluable in the moment. Stopping the opponent right now is how high-performers win.

From Phil Jackson in Sacred Hoops, “Basketball is a complex dance that requires shifting from one object to another at lightning speed. To excel, you need to act with a clear mind and be totally focused on what everyone on the floor is doing. The secret is not thinking. That doesn’t mean being stupid; it means quieting the endless jabbering of thoughts so that your body can do instinctively what it’s been trained to do without the mind getting in the way. All of us have flashes of oneness… when we’re completely immersed in the moment, inseparable from what we’re doing.”

A loser is not concerned with proving himself. They are concerned with winning. Losers often imagine their “respect gained” for beating a superior opponent. This mindset seldom produces winners – the need to prove yourself is based on insecurity and self-doubt.

Winning is overcoming obstacles to reach a goal, but the value in winning is only as great as the value of the goal reached.

The process can be more rewarding than the victory itself. Similarly, planning a vacation and the excitement and build-up to the trip is often more rewarding than the trip vacation.

Never discredit an opponent, for they are fighting the same internal and external battle you are.

Bill Belichick preaches for his players to “do their job” rather than focusing on the opponent. He never discredits an opponent. Doing so would be allowing the Self 1 to assign an ego to the work performed by Self 2. Over time the performance of Self 2 will atrophy if it believes Self 1, in that it is better than all others, and doesn’t have to try as hard.

The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

Habits are formed by chunking = The process in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine.

The brain is constantly looking for shortcuts to save energy, effort, and process less information. When a habit is formed, the brain partially shuts off allowing for more energy to be used elsewhere.

Process of Habits:

  1. Cue – trigger that tells brain to go into automatic mode
  2. Routine – physical, mental, or emotional act
  3. Reward – brain determines if feedback loop is worth remembering

Habit loops are important to not overwork our brain. Performing tasks unconsciously is essential to preserving energy – think: driving a car (unconscious competence).

Habits are ideal for non-creative, administrative work.

Habit examples driven from marketing:

Claude C. Hopkins added mint flavor to toothpaste to trick brain into thinking teeth were being cleaned when taste buds noticed fresh taste. Mint taste doesn’t do anything to clean teeth.

Shampoo has no need to foam – foam is added to give the perception shampoo is working.

Habits are unable to be truly extinguished. To change a habit, the old cue must be present and an old or similar reward must result, but a new routine needs to take place.

Golden Rule to Changing Habits: identify and keep cue and reward, but shift the routine that takes place in between. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same.

Cultures are built out of keystone habits – habits that over time transform everything.

Keeping habits = little willpower. Changing habits = significant willpower.

Habits are more likely to change when significant events occur. Event is a trigger of crisis (can be +/-), so willpower is bypassed and action will take place regardless of habit.

Crisis/habit ex: Target wants new mother customers because first time baby providers are in state of crisis, and purchasing items at Target consistently will provide a crisis solving habit.

Peer pressure is a social habit that encourages people to conform to group expectations.

For a movement to grow, it must become self-propelling; providing new habits to individuals that help them pre-decide what to think on their own (if a habit is triggered, they aren’t actually thinking for themselves). THINK: habit of always rooting for team, politician, ect… regardless of their performance, but based on their ‘story’ or emotional connection (habit) even if the facts aren’t true.

Habits in summary:

Become aware. Identify cue. Change routine. Implement same/similar reward. Believe in change. Framework for original habit exists, in/out have been modified.

“The way we habitually think of our surroundings and ourselves create the worlds that each of us inhabit.”