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The Effective Executive
Cover of The Effective Executive
The Effective Executive
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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
* 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 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
* 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.
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  • Effectiveness Can Be Learned

    To be, effective is the job of the executive. "To effect" and "to execute" are, after all, near-synonyms. Whether he works in a business or in a hospital, in a government agency or in a labor union, in a university or in the army, the executive is, first of all, expected to get the right things done. And this is simply that he is expected to be effective.

    Yet men of high effectiveness are conspicuous by their absence in executive jobs. High intelligence is common enough among executives. Imagination is far from rare. The level of knowledge tends to be high. But there seems to be little correlation between a man's effectiveness and his intelligence, his imagination or his knowledge. Brilliant men are often strikingly ineffectual; they fail to realize that the brilliant insight is not by itself achievement. They never have learned that insights become effectiveness only through hard systematic work. Conversely, in every organization there are some highly effective plodders. While others rush around in the frenzy and busyness which very bright people so often confuse with "creativity," the plodder puts one foot in front of the other and gets there like the tortoise in the old fable.

    Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results. By themselves, they only set limits to what can be attained.

    WHY WE NEED EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVES
    All this should be obvious. But why then has so little attention been paid to effectiveness, in an age in which there are mountains of books and articles on every other aspect of the executive's tasks?

    One reason for this neglect is that effectiveness is the specific technology of the knowledge worker within an organization. Until recently, there was no more than a handful of these around.

    For manual work, we need only efficiency; that is, the ability to do things right rather than the ability to get the right things done. The manual worker can always be judged in terms of the quantity and quality of a definable and discrete output, such as a pair of shoes. We have learned how to measure efficiency and how to define quality in manual work during the last hundred years-to the point where we have been able to multiply the output of the individual worker tremendously.

    Formerly, the manual worker-whether machine operator or front-line soldier-predominated in an organizations. Few people of effectiveness were needed: those at the top who gave the orders that others carried out. They were so small a fraction of the total work population that we could, rightly or wrongly, take their effectiveness for granted. We could depend on the supply of "naturals," the few people in any area of human endeavor who somehow know what the rest of us have to learn the hard way.

    This was true not only of business and the army. It is hard to realize today that "government" during the American Civil War a hundred years ago meant the merest handful of people. Lincoln's Secretary of War had fewer than fifty civilian subordinates, most of them not "executives' and policy-makers but telegraph clerks. The entire Washington establishment of the U.S. government in Theodore Roosevelt's time, around 1900, could be comfortably housed in any one of the government buildings along the Mall today.

    The foregoing is excerpted from The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

About the Author-
  • Peter F. Drucker is considered the most influential management thinker ever. The author of more than twenty-five books, his ideas have had an enormous impact on shaping the modern corporation. Drucker passed away in 2005.

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The Effective Executive
The Effective Executive
Peter F. Drucker
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