Getting the right things done

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker is about getting the right things done. Five habits for the same are:

  • Managing time — continually monitoring and improving how time is spent
  • Choosing what to contribute to the organization by asking the question “What results are expected of me?”
  • Building on strengths — strengths of theirs, their superiors, colleagues, and subordinates; and on the in the situation, that is, on what they can do
  • Setting the right priorities — do first things first, and second things not at all than the alternative get nothing done.
  • Effective decision-making — making a few, but fundamental, decisions fast. And it is always a judgment based on “dissenting opinions” rather than on “consensus on the facts”.

Before we move forward, let’s answer the question — Who is an executive?

Every knowledge worker in modern organization is an “executive” if, by virtue of his position or knowledge, he is responsible for a contribution that materially affects the capacity of the organization to perform and to obtain results, This may be the capacity of a business to bring out a new product or to obtain a larger share of a given market. It may be the capacity of a hospital to provide bedside care to its patients, and so on. Such a man (or woman) must make decisions; he cannot just carry out orders. He must take responsibility for his contribution. And he is supposed, by virtue of his knowledge, to be better equipped to make the right decision than anyone else.

As per the above, everyone in the Software Development industry is an executive regardless of their experience level and their “role” assigned by their organisation. So everyone should know how to make effective decisions.

What can I contribute?

This, IMO, is one of the most important questions that everyone needs to ask. These right questions open up avenues for active conversations.

According to Peter Drucker, one can contribute to three areas of an organisation:

  • Direct results of the organisation
  • Building of organisation values and their re-affirmation
  • Building and developing people for tomorrow

The following questions help to understand and improve the contribution one is making towards an organisation:

  • Who has to use my output for it to become effective?
  • What self-development do I need? What knowledge and skill do I have to acquire to make the contribution I should be making? What strengths do I have to put to work? What standards do I have to set myself?

The key over here is to move away from the mindset of “taking orders” to someone who makes decisions. And also take responsibility for own decisions. It feels easy to “take orders”, but one can grow only by making decisions outside their comfort zone.

But the shift can happen when we start asking the valuable question, “How can I contribute?” instead of “How can I achieve?” along with:

  • Focus on strengths
  • Manage and monitor time effectively
  • Prioritise the tasks
  • Keep looking for opportunities to contribute

Peter Drucker is considered to be the founder of modern management. And also someone who introduced the term Knowledge Worker. He had predicted many of the significant developments of the late twentieth century, including privatisation and decentralisation, the decisive importance of marketing and the emergence of the information society with its necessity of lifelong learning.

He has written many books, The Concept of Corporation, The Essential Drucker, The Daily Drucker are a few of them. I had earlier written the summary of his other book — Managing Oneself.