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:
- Effective executives know where their time goes. They work systematically at managing the little time they have
- Focus on outward contribution. They gear their efforts to results rather than to work.
- 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.
- 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.