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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2004
Peter F. Drucker is probably the greatest management thinker of the 20st Century. He has been Professor at New York University and at 83 years old still teaches at the Graduate Management School of Claremont University, California. This book, originally published in 1966, is split up in seven chapters, plus a conclusion.
Effectiveness is not just about intelligence, imagination and knowledge, it is about getting results. And the author believes that "effectiveness can be learned - and it also has to be learned." In Chapter 1 - Effectiveness Can Be Learned, Drucker discusses the five habits of the mind that have to be acquired to be an effective executive: 1. Know thy time; 2. Outward contribution, or what can I contribute?; 3. Making strength productive; 4. First things first; and 5. Effective decision-making. Each of these elements of executive effectiveness are covered in the next five chapters.
In Chapter 2 - Know Thy Time, Drucker explains the three-step process that is the foundation of executive effectiveness. Step 1 is the recording of time; step 2 is the management of time; and step 3 is the consolidation of time. Time is the limiting factor. "Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed."
"The focus on contribution is the key to effectiveness: in a man's own work ...; in his relations with others ...; and in his use of the tools of the executive ..." This outward contribution is the subject of Chapter 3 - What Can I Contribute? The executive is accountable for the performance of the whole. This accountability results in four basic requirements of effective human relations in order to manage the effectiveness of the team: 1. communications; 2. teamwork; 3. self-development; and 4. development of others. "To focus on contribution is to focus on effectiveness."
It is also the executive's task to use the strength of each man as a building block for joint performance. The unique purpose of organization is to make the strengths of associates, superior(s), and one's own strengths productive. This task is the subject of Chapter 4 - Making Strength Productive. One of the major challenges is to staff from strength, which follows four rules: 1. Be aware of "impossible" job(s); 2. Make each job demanding and big; 3. What can a man do, not what a job requires; and 4. To get strength one has to put up with weaknesses. Personally, I believe that this chapter is probably the most important (and complicated) subject of the book.
"If these is any one 'secret' of effectiveness, it is concentration. Effective executives do first things first and they do one thing at a time." In Chapter 5 - First Things First, Drucker explains that effective executives concentrate on the one task right now, then review the situation and pick the next one task that now comes first. This requires courage to let certain tasks and matters go, in order to concentrate on the really important events.
Chapter 6 - The Elements of Decision-Making, which is quite a long chapter is the start of the second part of the book. "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'. So what are the elements of the decision process? 1. "Is this a generic situation or an exception?" Most problems are really generic.; 2. What the decision to accomplish?; 3. What is right, rather than what is acceptable?; 4. Converting the decision into action.; and 5. Feedback has to be built into the decision. This sounds simple, but is rather difficult in practice.
But what about the decision itself? "A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives." And this is the subject of Chapter 7 - Effective Decisions. Contrary to common knowledge one does not start with facts, but one starts with opinions. "To determine what is a fact requires a decision on the criteria of relevance, especially on the appropriate measures. This is the hinge of the effective decision, and usually its most controversial aspect." And the right decision ultimately grows out of the clash and conflict of divergent opinions and out of consideration of competing alternatives. Although the book was originally published in 1996, the master of management also includes some important aspects on the impact of the computer on decision-making.
Finally, Drucker concludes with the conclusion that effectiveness MUST be learned. He bases his assumption on the fact that the executive's job is to be effective and that effectiveness can be learned. He believes that effectiveness is based on the subjects discussed in chapters 2 to 5. And he concludes that effectiveness will/has become more important for the knowledge worker.
As usual, another great book by Peter Drucker. Although the book was originally published in 1966, it still strikes home the simple basic of effectiveness. This book is not only for business executives, but for all people wanting to become effective and in any field required. The author makes use of great examples from the greatest thinkers in time. I recommend this book to readers who did like Larry Bossidy's Execution and Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The author uses simple business US-English.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 13 January 2012
Note: 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 plan
o 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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
As an author and an intellectual, the late Peter F. Drucker was a true business sage. Recognized as the father of modern management, Drucker forecast numerous pivotal trends, including decentralization, privatization and the development of the information society. He introduced the concept of the "knowledge worker," a term he employs widely in this fascinating book. His internal study of General Motors, Concept of the Corporation, greatly influenced how businesses conduct their affairs. Each Drucker book is a genuine business classic, including this one. getAbstract believes it will help you think productively about what you do. No one writes more intelligently or presciently on management and its functions than Drucker. All executives, even those who are already effective, will benefit from reading this informative, enlightening book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2009
Some books, while brief, offer deep insights. This is such a book. Written in 1967, the examples the author draws on feel old and, on my first reading, I did not find the author's style particularly pleasant or easy to follow. The book's material however is as relevant now -if not more so- as when it was first published. It is important not to be distracted by the term "executive" in the title: Mr. Drucker writes about the need for effective "knowledge workers" inside an -any type of- organisation, not just the people at the top, as could be implied by the term executive, but those who are "responsible for actions and decisions which are meant to contribute to the performance capacity of [their] organisation". The author first makes the point that effectiveness can be learned and highlights five practices or habits that make an "executive" effective. Each of the practices is then clearly laid out and articulated in its own chapter.
This book is really about the self-development (through those five practices) of the "knowledge worker" and Mr Drucker motivation for writing about this must have been, at least in part, his view that the modern society depends critically on large-scale organisations for its survival and his perception that effectiveness in executives was vital to those large-scale organisations effectiveness but also to "their [organisations] performances and results, values, standards, and self-demands".
"The effective Executive" is a very worthwhile read, Mr Drucker goes to the heart of the matter with pleasant concision and, in hindsight -having read this twice only recently, many writings posterior to his on the same topic only tackle a fraction or refine on just a few of the principles laid out by the author.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2009
I have read many management books. The Effective Executive tops most of them for its stark simplicity in stating key predicaments of effective management. Most remarkable is that the book was written over 20 years ago while its lessons remain fundamentally valid today, a testament to Drucker's ability to identify key principles and presenting them in a simple, compelling way.
I plan to read the book again in a few months, after I had the opportunity to test some of Drucker's principles in my management practice. I am sure I will then be able to extract different perspectives from the text.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2012
This book is one of those books that is a must for anyone that wants to be more financially savvy. One of the main teachings in this book is that we are moving into a information age where we wont use that much physical hands on stuff and more knowledge. It makes sense and you can already see it happening in the world... physical stuff closing down (shops, buildings ) unemployment etc. The wolrd is changing. It calls for a new type of worker, a "knowledge worker" as Drucker teach us.

The only negative thing i can say is that this book can be a little hard to get into, you can see the person that wrote it has high level of seeing things and didnt write it in a way that everyone would understand clearly and the avarage joe might find it a bit hard reading and understanding
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 2011
This was a pleasant book to read. Drucker writes well and offers plenty of food for thought. The essence:
1. Effective executives know where their time goes.
2. Effective executives focus on outward contribution
3. They build on strengths
4. They concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results
5. They make effective decisions.
This is not a manual on how to be effective but it is a classic and interesting book and a joy to read.
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on 7 December 1998
I first heard of this book while watching an excerpt of Newt Gengrich's class (yes the one he got in so much trouble over). He said that he always recommends this book to his subordinates. When asked if he ever follows up to find out if his advice has been followed, he replied, "I don't have to follow up; I can tell by their work habits whether or not they have read the book." Yes the specific examples are outdated but human nature has not changed during the last several thousand years. The basic elements of his advice have not changed. I recommend anyone who is in a supervisory capcity, or considering it, read this book. Have your subordinates read it, and keep it on your shelf. You will want to refer to it again and again.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2002
Revolutionary when written, The Effective Executive provides the fund of ideas on which most subsequent management works draw. To fully understand today's cutting edge business concepts, you must, absolutely must, first understand Drucker and read his original writings. The Effective Exectuive caused many in the business and academic worlds to scratch their heads asking "Why didn't I think of that?" The answer: they had focused on many of the trees in the forest about which Drucker wrote ("first things first" and "know thy time" and "effective decisions"), but they had not stepped back far enough to see the whole landscape and appreciate how the individual trees fit together. After reading The Effective Executive you will want to read challenging new works such as "Why Didn't I Think of That? - Think the Unthinkable and Achieve Creative Greatness" where the author takes you to the highest levels of current creative managerial thought so that you, unlike your predecessors in the pre-Drucker days, will not end up having to ask yourself "Why didn't I think of that?"
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