The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials)

by: Peter F. Drucker (0)

The measure of the executive, Peter 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:

  • Management of time
  • Choosing what to contribute to the practical organization
  • Knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect
  • Setting up the right priorities
  • And Knitting all of them together with effective decision making

Ranging widely through the annals of business and government, Peter Drucker demonstrates the distinctive skill of the executive and offers fresh insights into old and seemingly obvious business situations.

The Reviews

“Executives are not paid for doing things they like to do. They are paid for getting the right things done.”If you have read anything on leadership or management in the past few decades, you are probably already familiar with Peter Drucker. I first heard about Drucker a few years back while reading a book by a college president and over time Drucker’s name kept popping up everywhere.It was difficult to determine which book to read first. He has written dozens of books, and all of them have been universally praised. I chose The Effective Executive because it seemed to have a simple, straightforward message and it was under 200 pages. However, I was a bit weary because the book was first published in 1967.First, this book is amazing. It packed with great, applicable information. I actually think this book is more relevant today that it was when it was first written.Second, the message is amazing. The overall message is simple, “effectiveness can be learned and must be earned.” There may be some individuals better suited for leadership roles, but to be an effective manager you need to develop the skill of effectiveness.I will definitely be picking up more Drucker books in the future.Here are some gems:“Organizations are held together by information rather than by ownership or command.”“Working on the right things is what makes knowledge work effective.”“All in all, the effective executive tries to be himself.”

So if you’ve been reading business books or just working for a long time you will be familiar with many of the concepts in this book. However, for me, reading it was extremely valuable because it is the source code for so much business thinking. After reading it you can see where Steven Covey expanded on Drucker and built a billion dollar empire and countless other business best sellers too I’m sure. Interestingly some of the ideas in this book have been validated using modern scientific analysis unavailable to Drucker in the 1960s, e.g., Zenger & Folkman demonstrating the importance of focusing on strengths and not weaknesses. Most importantly though, there’s a lot of really excellent and practical tools. For example, I’ve started using Alfred Sloan’s memo template for post meeting clarity, I use Drucker’s questions a manager should ask about needs for negotiations and 1 on 1 meetings. I definitely recommend you buy, read, and use this book.

The author, Peter Drucker, needs no introduction, as he is is well known in the management community. As anyone who knows his work would expect, this book is very well written: clear language, well structured, full of examples, and easy to read. The main points Drucker uses to define the effective executives are very straightforward: management of time, understanding of one's contribution, problem framing and decision taking. The book is old. But it is evident that its arguments are still as applicable today as they were when it was realeased. Any book that has passed the proof of time is worth reading. This one is no exception. If you want to know some basic principles for effectiveness, as stated by one of the brightest minds in management, I strongly recommend reading it.

The book is good, the information is interesting and really important. But the reading is tiresome, the language is from 1960. A lot of what the author tries to say in the book could be said in a few chapters, but he decided to fill the book with useless alergories and confusing examples.But the worst part of all is that the content is not modern. The author uses examples when my grandfather was 20 years old. That might be good as the concepts he is trying to share are the same, but it is very hard for a 27 year-old to relate to.Overall, three stars because I was able to extract good information out of it, but I was hoping for more, way more than I got.

My first book by Drucker and I loved it. While it is clear how old this book is by the sole references to men as executives, the wisdom has not aged. I really appreciate the focus he encourages and emphasis on specific actions like time recoding. I could easily see myself coming back to this book.

I find this book, written more than 50 years ago, not only actual but also refreshing. Not all the book, let’s say 10% is actually still applicable to today’s reality, but the remaining 90% is a timeless concentration of great wisdom. A must ready for every manager, of a team or ourself.

Some language and examples are dated, but the observations and techniques remain completely relevant. For example: - First- and second-level managers nowadays usually don't know anywhere near as much as their people about the job's true challenges and solutions. - It rarely works to try to make a person something that he/she simply is not. Capitalize on people's skills instead of trying to manufacture skills in them. - If a person has a major weakness in his role, don't try to fix the situation by splitting the role with another person who has complementary skills and weaknesses. Both will struggle. Things will most likely worsen.

Note: Amazon continues to feature reviews of earlier editions. What immediately follows is my review of the 50th anniversary edition published today, January 24, 2017. What then follows is my review of an earlier edition.* * *This is the 50th anniversary edition of a book first published in 1967. Jim Collins provides the Foreword and Zachary First the Afterword. In my opinion, Peter Drucker (1909-2005) is the most influential business thinker as indicated by the endless list of other thought leaders who continue to acknowledge his value and significance to their own work. He always insisted on referring to himself as a “student” or “bystander.” With all due respect to his wishes, I have always viewed him as a pioneer who surveyed and defined dimensions of the business world that no one else had previously explored.Consider this passage in the Foreword: “Here are ten lessons I learned from Peter Drucker and this book, and that I offer as a small portal of entry into the mind of the greatest management thinker off all time.” These are the lessons that Collins cites and discusses:1. First, manage thyself.2. Do what you’re made for.3. Work how you work best (and let others do the same).4. Count your time, and make it count.5. Prepare better meetings.6. Don’t make a hundred decisions when one will do.7. Find your one big distinctive impact.8. Stop what you would not start.9. Run lean.10. Be useful.“He was in the end, Collins adds, "the highest level of what a teacher can be: a role model of the very ideas he taught, a walking testament to his teachings in the tremendous lasting effect of his own life.”As was true of Collins and will be true 0f everyone else who reads one of the several editions, they will have their own take-aways. Drucker provides a framework in the Introduction, stressing while discussing the importance of eight specific practices that all great business and non-profit CEOs are committed to, such as asking “What needs to be done?” and “What is right for the enterprise?” The first two enable them to obtain the information they need.The next four help them to convert this knowledge into effective action:3. Develop action plans.4. Take responsibility for decisions [and their consequences].5. Take responsibility for communicating.6. Are focused on opportunities rather on problems.The last two ensure that the entire organization feels responsible and accountable7. Run productive meetings.8. Think and feel “we” rather than “I.”Yes, these are basic and obvious practices but they were not five decades ago. Until Drucker, thinking about management lacked order, structure, clarity, and focus. Borrowing a phrase from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Drucker developed thinking about management to “the other side of complexity.” To paraphrase, Albert Einstein, Drucker made management “as simple as possible but no simpler.”In the Introduction Peter Drucker concludes, “We’ve just covered eight practices of effective executives. 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]”...And, like every discipline, effectiveness [begin italics] can [end italics] and [begin italics] must [end italics] be earned.”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 plano 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.

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials)
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