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The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

Ask what needs to get done?

Ask what is right for the enterprise?

Develop action plans.

Take responsibility for decisions.

Take responsibility for communication.

Focus on opportunities rather than problems.

Run productive meetings.

Think and say “we” rather than “I”.

Concentrate on one task.

Knowledge is useless until it has been translated into deeds.

Plan your course. Think about desired results, probable restraints, future revisions, check-in points, and implications for how you’ll spend your time.

What contributions should the enterprise expect from me over the next 18 months to two years? What results will I commit to? With what deadlines?

Is this course of action ethical? Is it acceptable within the organization? Is it legal? Is it compatible with the mission, values, and policies of the organization?

The action plan is a statement of intentions rather than a commitment. It should be revised often because every success creates new opportunity.

Create a system for checking results against the expectations.

Time is the scarcest and most precious resource.

Problem-solving does not produce results. It prevents damage. Exploiting opportunities produces results.

Think of the needs and the opportunities of the organization before thinking of your own needs and opportunities.

Listen first, speak last.

Effectiveness can be learned.

Get the right things done.

Insights become effective only through hard systematic work.

The plodder puts one foot in front of the other and gets there first.

The knowledge worker can only be helped. He must direct himself toward performance and contribution.

Thinking is doing.

Education is the most expensive capital investment we have ever known.

You must make decisions, not just carry out orders.

Take responsibility for your contribution.

The decision lies with whoever is on the spot.

Knowledge work is not defined by quantity or costs. It is defined by results.

What do we really mean when we say our market?

What events are important and relevant and what events are merely distractions?

Organization is a means of multiplying the strength of an individual.

Each knowledge worker has his own skill and his own concerns.

The decision maker is outside rather than inside the organization.

The only reason for existence is to serve the environment.

The outside environment is the true reality and is well beyond effective control from the inside.

Promotion and advertisements try to mold the customer's preferences and values.

An organization is an organ of society and fulfills itself by the contribution it makes to the outside environment.

Unless you make conscious efforts to perceive the outside, the inside may blind you from true reality.

Effectiveness is a habit that needs to be practiced.

Know where your time goes.

Manage your time.

Focus on outward contribution.

Gear your efforts toward results rather than to work.

What results are expected of me?

Build on your strengths.

Concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results.

Set priorities and stay with the decisions.

Do first things first and second things not at all.

Plan one's work.

Find out where your time actually goes.

Time is totally irreplaceable.

Man is ill-equipped to manage his time.

It is the demand for capital, rather than the supply thereof, which sets the limit to economic growth and activity.

People are time consumers and most people are time wasters.

Fast personal decisions are likely to be wrong decisions.

People decisions are time-consuming.

Find the nonproductive time-wasting activities and get rid of them.

What would happen if this were not done at all?

Which of the activities on my time log could be done by somebody else just as well, if not better?

What do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness?

Routine is what makes unskilled people without judgment capable of doing what it took a near genius to do before.

Time wastes often result from overstaffing.

Malfunction in information is a major time waster.

One rarely over prunes.

Set deadlines for the important activities based on your judgment of your discretionary time.

Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.

What can I contribute?

What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?

Direct results, the building of values and their reaffirmation, and building and developing people for tomorrow.

People adjust to the level of the demands made on them.

Knowledge workers produce ideas information and concepts.

Concern yourself with the usability of your product.

Four basic requirements of effective human relations: communications, teamwork, self-development, and development of others.

Bring into your service men better than you are yourself.

Subordinates are paid to perform and not to please their superiors.

Human excellence can only be achieved in one area.

Friendships should be off the job.

First make sure the job is well designed.

The test of an organization is to make common people achieve uncommon performance.

Make each job demanding and big.

Only is the job is big and demanding, to begin with, will it enable a man to rise to the new demands of a changed situation.

The most important thing to find out is what you really can do.

It is equally important to find out as early as possible whether you are in the right place or even the right kind of work.

It is easy to move while young.

Ask yourself am I in the right work and in the right place for my strengths to tell?

Start with what a man can do rather than what a job requires.

There have been few great commanders in history who were not self-centered conceited and full of admiration for what they saw in the mirror.

To be more requires a man who is conceited enough to believe that the world really needs him and depends on his getting into power.

A superior has responsibility for the work of others.

A job should enable you to test both yourself and the organization.

Make productive what you can do.

Be yourself. Do not pretend to be someone else.

Feed opportunities and starve problems.

The secret of effectiveness is concentration.

Do first things first and do them one at a time.

Become conscious of the need to concentrate the human strengths available to you on major opportunities. This is the only way to get results.

Nothing ever goes right.

The unexpected always happens.

Today is always the result of actions and decisions taken yesterday.

Is this still worth doing?

Nothing new is easy.

Bring in fresh people with fresh points of view.

Do not set priorities.

Pick the future as against the past.

Choose your own direction.

Aim high, aim for something that will make a difference, rather than something that is safe and easy to do.

Achievement depends less on ability in doing research than on the courage to go after opportunity.

It is more productive to convert an opportunity into results than to solve a problem.

Our business is service.

Look for the true problem not the symptom alone.

If I had to live with this for a long time would I be willing to?

If the answer is no, keep working to find a more general more conceptual and find a more comprehensible solution.

The effective executive does not make many decisions.

A country with many laws is a country of incompetent lawyers. It is a country that attempts to solve every problem as a unique phenomenon rather than as a special case under general rules of law.

Define clear specifications as to what the decision has to accomplish.

Put down what you think is right as you see it. Don’t worry about our reaction. Don’t worry about whether we will like this or dislike that. And don’t you above all concern yourself with the compromises that might be needed to make your recommendations acceptable.

It is fruitless and a waste of time to worry about what is acceptable and what one had better not say as not to evoke resistance.

The things one worries about never happen.

Convert the decision into action.

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 intentions.

Unless one has considered alternatives one has a closed mind.

The first rule and decision-making is that one does not make a decision unless there is a disagreement.

Disagreement is needed to stimulate the imagination.

Do not waste the time of good people to cover up your own indecisions.

Get the right things done right.

The strength of the computer lies in its being a logic machine. The human being is not logical; he is perceptual. He is slow and sloppy. But he is also bright and has insight. He can adapt.

Basic decisions in respect to inventory are not inventory decisions at all. They are highly risky business decisions. Inventory emerges as a means of balancing different risks.

Decisions have to be made in principle.

The computer is not usually the cause of anything. It only brings out in sharp relief what has been happening all along.

The ability to make effective decisions increasingly determines the ability of every knowledge worker to be effective together.

As long as we can handle the events on the operating level by adaptation rather than by thinking, by “feel” rather than by knowledge and analysis, operating people will be untrained, untried, and untesting when they are first confronted with strategic decisions.

Effectiveness must be learned.

The executive’s job is to be effective and effectiveness can be learned.

The executive is paid for being effective. He owes effectiveness to the organization from which he works.

Effectiveness cannot be taught, but it is capable of being learned.

Effectiveness is self-discipline.

Effectiveness reveals itself as crucial to a man’s self-development; to organization development; and to the fulfillment and viability of modern society.

Record where the time goes.

Question the relative importance of different uses of time, of different activities and their goals.

Focus vision on contribution.

What is the contribution you ought to make?

Think about your own goals and those of the organization.

Have high standards for yourself.

Assume responsibility and focus on the means.

Make strengths productive.

Learn through doing. Develop yourself.

Do first things first.

Develop character: foresight, self-reliance, courage.

Develop leadership: dedication, determination, and serious purpose.

Make the effective decision.

Or rational action.

Decisions have to be made according to the specific situation encountered.

Develop and train yourself in responsible judgement. Develop procedure, analysis, and ethics of action.

Acquire knowledge and skill.

Learn new work habits.

As executives work toward becoming effective, they raise the performance level of the whole organization.

Organizations are not more effective because they have better people. They have better people because they motivate to self-development through their standards, their habits, and their climate.

Concentrate and set priorities instead of trying to do a little bit of everything.

The job of making the knowledge worker productive is still ahead.

Your level, your standards, and your demands on yourself determine to a large extent the motivation, direction, the dedication of the other knowledge workers around you.

In a knowledge area, there are no superiors or subordinates, there are only older and younger men. Yet organization requires hierarchy.

Make organizational performance compatible with personal achievement.

Make your knowledge area become an organizational opportunity.

By focusing on contribution, you make your own values become organizational results.

Knowledge workers need money, opportunity, achievement, fulfillment, and values.

A well-managed organization is a dull organization.

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