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5.0 out of 5 stars Managing onself for effectiveness, which MUST be learned, 12 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Effective Executive (Paperback)
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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