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

Ratings and reviews for The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials)
4.8
based on 87 rating(s)
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Price: $17.99 $11.99 (33% off)
Trade In Value: $0.91
Author(s): Peter F. Drucker, Peter Drucker
Release Date: 1/3/2006
Binding: Paperback
Number of Pages: 208
Studio: HarperBusiness
Manufacturer: HarperBusiness
Dewey Decimal Number: 658.4
Product Group: Book
Edition: Revised
Sales Rank: 3691
Description:

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.

ISBN: 0060833459
UPC: 0060833459

Ratings
Reviews 1 to 10 of 87
Pageof 9
amazon logo Straight Talk About Increasing Your Executive Effectiveness
Peter Drucker begins this book by pointing out that there is no science of how to improve executive effectiveness, nor any naturally-occurring effective executives. The redeeming point of this problem is that he argues that executive effectiveness can be learned.

The principles begin with a focus on time management. We can get greater quantities of every other resource we need, except time. Drucker reports that executives spend their time much differently than they think they do and much differently than they would like to. His solution is to begin by measuring how you spend your time, and compare it with an ideal allocation. Than begin to systematically get rid of the unimportant in favor of the important. His suggestions include stopping some things, delegation, creating policy decisions to replace ad hoc decisions, staying out of things that others should do, and so forth. Any student of time management will recognize the list he suggests. One of the best points is to give yourself large blocks of uninterrupted time to do more significant tasks. He also cautions us not to cut down on time spent with other people. If an hour is required, don't try to do it in 15 minutes.

Next, Drucker argues that we should focus on what will make a difference rather than unimportant questions. Otherwise, we will fill our time with motion rather than proceeding towards results.

Beyond that, he points out that we have to build on our own strengths and those of the people in our organization. That is how we can outperform the competition and accomplish much more.

We also need to be systems thinkers, getting to the core of the issue first. If we are weak on new products, we need to work on the new product development process before fine-tuning our marketing. If we reverse the order of these activities, our results will be far less.

Perhaps the best section in the book has to do with executive decision-making, when to make a decision, about what, and what principles to apply. If you only read this section, you would be well rewarded for studying this fine book.

I especially liked the familiar Drucker use of important historical examples to make his points. You'll remember the principles better because the examples are so vivid.

Although this book was written some time ago, it retains the strength of its insight today. Truly , this is a timeless way to achieve greater effectiveness.

You may be concerned about how you are going to learn to apply these concepts. That is actually quite easy. Drucker provides questions in each section that will guide you, step-by-step, to focus your attention on the most promising areas.

If you only read one book about how to improve your personal effectiveness as an executive, you will find this to be a rewarding choice.

201 of 205 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo More than 30 years old, but very true
Although Drucker wrote EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE more than 30 years ago, the principles of decision making are still relevant today, if not more so. The effective executive. . .

1) Knows where their time goes. Time is the most valuable resource and is inelastic. It must be managed. What has priority? What is better left undone? What can be outsourced?

2) Focuses on results (not effort) by asking:
"What do I do that justifies my being on the payroll?" (pg 53).

3) Staff to people's strength (not the absence of weakness).
There is no such thing as a "good man". Good at what? Likewise, a person is hired to produce results, not to please a superior, or blend in.

4) Fills the job with the right person (not fits the job to the available person). Jobs in the organization are interdependent; if one changes, it will affect another. Also, "To tolerate diversity, relationships must be task-focused rather than personality focused." (pg 77)

5) Tries to be himself / herself (not someone else). (S)He looks for patterns in their performance, and focus on their strengths. "Feed the opportunities and starve the problems." (pg 98)

6) Concentrates on one effort at a time. (not multi-tasking)
It is hard enough to do one thing right.

7) Concentrates on important and strategic decisions (not a great number of small, reactionary decisions). Many problems were created in the past, and solving them only re-establishes the status quo. It is better to seek opportunities than just fix problems.

8) Makes decisions based on dissenting opinions (not pseudo facts and pre-judgements) Use other's opinions to form a case for each side.

9) Acts or does not act (no hedging or compromise)

102 of 105 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Effectiveness - doing the right things
"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).
Effective executives:
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:
a. Communication
b. Teamwork
c. Self-development
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.
79 of 84 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Being a Help Rather Than a Bother
Have you ever run into executives who create more harm than good? Do you realize that some people may see you that way, at least in some situations.

One of the most famous quotes by Peter Drucker is that he sometimes refers to himself as an "insultant" rather than a consultant. His straight talk in this book will direct you onto the right path for helping your organization accomplish more.

Peter Drucker begins this book by pointing out that there is no science of how to improve executive effectiveness, nor any naturally-occurring effective executives. The redeeming point of this problem is that he argues that executive effectiveness can be learned.

The principles begin with a focus on time management. We can get greater quantities of every other resource we need, except time. Drucker reports that executives spend their time much differently than they think they do and much differently than they would like to. His solution is to begin by measuring how you spend your time, and compare it with an ideal allocation. Than begin to systematically get rid of the unimportant in favor of the important. His suggestions include stopping some things, delegation, creating policy decisions to replace ad hoc decisions, staying out of things that others should do, and so forth. Any student of time management will recognize the list he suggests. One of the best points is to give yourself large blocks of uninterrupted time to do more significant tasks. He also cautions us not to cut down on time spent with other people. If an hour is required, don't try to do it in 15 minutes.

Next, Drucker argues that we should focus on what will make a difference rather than unimportant questions. Otherwise, we will fill our time with motion rather than proceeding towards results.

Beyond that, he points out that we have to build on our own strengths and those of the people in our organization. That is how we can outperform the competition and accomplish much more.

We also need to be systems thinkers, getting to the core of the issue first. If you would like to know more about that subject, look at The Fifth Discipline. For example, if you are weak on new products, you need to work on the new product development process before fine-tuning your marketing. If you reverse the order of these activities, your results will be far less.

Perhaps the best section in the book has to do with executive decision-making, when to make a decision, about what, and what principles to apply. If you only read this section, you would be well rewarded for studying this fine book.

I especially liked the familiar Drucker use of important historical examples to make his points. You'll remember the principles better because the examples are so vivid.

Although this book was written some time ago, it retains the strength of its insight today. Truly , this is a timeless way to achieve greater effectiveness.

You may be concerned about how you are going to learn to apply these concepts. That is actually quite easy. Drucker provides questions in each section that will guide you, step-by-step, to focus your attention on the most promising areas.

If you only read one book about how to improve your personal effectiveness as an executive, you will find this to be a rewarding choice.

If you liked what Peter Drucker had to say in this book, you may want to read his latest book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, to get your agenda for using the skills you developed from The Effective Executive.

37 of 38 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Go to the Head of the Class with This Great Leadership Book
First of all, if you're looking for a highly detailed review of the content of this book, nope, wrong place! I review books with the enjoymnet factor being of number 1 importance. What I learn after my enjoymnet comes next. There's another review of this title that you can read for high level stimulation. So, let's get going...

I liked this book a lot, how's that for intellectual. It reads well, I was entertained and I learned a lot more then I expected, which is good for I planned on learning a lot about becoming an effective executive. But history lessons, hey, this is a bonus.

Mr. Drucker uses, as have other leadership teachers, many important history lessons of this century to illustrate his effective executive points. He includes life adventures of Gen. Marshall, Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy, even Bach, Mozart, Verdi and Haydn to illustrate points. One of my favorite comments is from Chapter 5 (First Things First), "Executives can hardly assume that they are 'executive Mozarts'". No more hints, you'll understand when you read the book. The chapter addressing "The Elements of Decision Making" is the best of the book, although the others are not far behind.

If you are in the market for a book on executive leadership, you better put this close to the top of your short reading list. If you are searching for an insightful look at some 20th Century history, then this is a good stop for the political scientist. Whatever your reason, buy and read this book, and see how it helps you become a more decisive and better leader, oops, "Executive".

12 of 20 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Impressive
An outstanding book with the key word in the title being "effective". Having spent several years working in large corporations and having dealt with many types of managers and executives I am able to count on one hand the ones I have been associated with who were actually "effective" in their respective positions. A must read for anyone currently in an executive management position or aspiring to become any type of manager.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo This a very powerful book
This book has some powerful messages for the modern executive. The difference between being busy and being effective is an important distinction that Drucker highlights. He also highlights some important rules of thumb that are very true but often taken for granted. For example, the fact that any significant innovation requires large chunks of consecutive time spent focused on the issue. Any manager that wants to create a breakthrough change in their organization needs to think through the issues in large chunks. All we can do in small chunks of time is what we did yesterday. He also points out that the critical scarce resource for any executive is time and that some of the most important decisions an executive makes is any honest assessment of what is not going to get done. Too many projects keep moving forward burning up critical time and never reaching critical mass. Drucker provides insight into how to either make something happen or how to be decisive about what you are not going to do which is often even harder
15 of 15 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Advice is sensible but the examples are "out of touch"
No doubt that Drucker is a master when it comes to what makes executives effective. But his advice is a lot about common sense and his examples of effective leadership often date back to the mid-50's and earlier. I enjoyed reading the book but finished it being neither motivated nor changed.
7 of 15 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Simple truth on management effectiveness
This book is not just a good read but should be treated as a manual by anyone who wants to get things done in the knowledge based economy. Some of Drucker's advice seems obvious, e.g. that effective executive should play on the strengths of his coworkers. But how often do managers follow this principle in real life? There is plenty of such simple yet profound advice in this book by the world's No. 1 management thinker.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Impromptu, but Good!
What a wonderful book! I read it soon after reading Walter Pidgeon's book entitled The Not-For-Profit CEO, and I thought it really added to it. Pidgeon touched upon what it takes to be successful as a CEO, and the author here tells us in a narrative format comprising of 192 pages how to be effective/successful. I recommend this book to anyone who is responsible for leading a sole proprietorship, a small business, a nonprofit, a department in a for-profit, or a large for-profit. In short, I recommend it for an executive/leader.

Most, if not all, of the points in this book are obvious. No rocket science here. The five main points I got from the book are that a leader must:

1. Understand what she was hired to do and do it
2. Stick to doing things that add value
3. Play on her strengths, and don't worry too much about her weaknesses
4. Strategize, plan, prioritize and focus
5. Lead by making rational decisions based on fact rather than opinion

A leader or executive is someone whose work requires tasks of his or her head. He or she does knowledge work. The author states that other workers do tasks of the legs that amount to physical or manual work. He points out time and time again that performing knowledge work is hard to do and still be effective at doing it. A leader who keeps the above five points in mind when doing her work will do it effectively. She will be achieving results - not merely appearing to be busy.

I had a few problems with the book even though I liked it. One is that it is dated. At page 139 the author states "Decisions are made by men." If this were an isolated incident of focusing on men to the exclusion of women, then I would have let it slide. However, there are numerous references indicating that the book was written as though only men are leaders/executives.

Another problem I had with the book was that the author was telling the reader what he thinks it takes to be "effective," and the organization of his book was not all that effective in making his points. The narrative format dragged out the message. I would like to have seen a better introduction as to what to expect from the book. I would have liked the main body of the book to be structured more in an outline style. And I would have liked a conclusion that reiterated the introduction and tied the main body of the book together. He failed to do this in my opinion.

Early in the book the author tells us that being an effective executive must to be learned. Well, ok - now tell me something I don't know. There was no need to talk about the need for learning - everything a person does has to be learned at some time or another. See the titles of Chapter 1 and the Conclusion to see what I am talking about. Those sections of the book should be renamed and rewritten to make the book more coherent.

I would have enjoyed the book more if it had only four points rather than five. The first two points in the book seem to me to really be just one. Leaders are hired to add value to the company that hires them, and they need to understand what they are hired to do. Clearly these two concepts are so intertwined that they should have been discussed as one point.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful.

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