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The Effective Executive (Harper Business Essentials)by Peter F Drucker
Synopses & Reviews
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
One reason for this neglect is that effectiveness is thespecific 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 hospital of yesterday did not know any of the "health-serviceprofessionals," the X-ray and lab technicians, the dieticians and therapists, the social workers, and so on, of whom it now employs as many as two hundred and fifty for every one hundred patients. Apart from a few nurses, there were only cleaning women, cooks and maids. The physician was the knowledge worker, with the nurse as his aide.
In other words, up to recent times, the major problem o organization was efficiency in the performance of the manual worker who did what he had been told to do. Knowledge workers were not predominant in organization.
In fact, only a small fraction of the knowledge workers of earlier days were part of an organization. Most of them worked by themselves as professionals, at best with a clerk. Their effectiveness or lack of effectiveness concerned only themselves and affected only themselves.
Today, however, the large knowledge organization is the central reality. Modem society is a society of large organized institutions. In every one of them, including the armed services, the center of gravity has shifted to the knowledge worker, the man who puts to work what he has between his ears rather than the brawn of his muscles or the skill of his hands. Increasingly, the majority of people who have been schooled to use knowledge, theory, and concept rather than physical force or manual skill work in an organization and are effective insofar as they can make a contribution to the organization.
Now effectiveness can no longer be taken for granted. Now it can no longer be neglected.
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:
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.
About the Author
White House Honors Drucker with Presidential Medal of FreedomOn June 21, Dr. Peter Drucker, author of The Effective Executiveand Management Challenges for the 21st Century, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.
"Dr. Peter Drucker is the world's foremost pioneer of management theory. Dr. Drucker has championed concepts such as privatization, management by objective and decentralization. He has served as a consultant to numerous governments, public service institutions and major corporations. Dr. Drucker is a Professor of Social Sciences and Management at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, which named its Graduate School of Management after him. He helped establish and continues to serve as the Honorary Chairman of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management in New York City, which awards the Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation. He is currently applying his expertise to the management of churches and other faith-based institutions and to the reorganization of universities worldwide." - White House Web siteThe Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation's highest civilian honor. It was established by President Truman in 1945 to recognize civilians for their service during World War II, and it was reinstated by President Kennedy in 1963 to honor distinguished service.
Also among the honorees were Hank Aaron, Bill Cosby, Placido Domingo, Katharine Graham, Nancy Reagan, and A.M. Rosenthal.
Peter F. Drucker was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1909. Educated in Austria and in England, Mr. Drucker holds a doctorate in Public and International Law from Frankfurt University in Germany. He also has received honorary doctorates from American, Belgian, Czech, English, Japanese, Spanish and Swiss universities. Since 1971, Mr. Drucker has been Marie Rankin Clarke Professor of Social Science and Management at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California, which named its Graduate Management Center after him in 1987.
In addition to teaching, Mr. Drucker currently acts as a consultant, specializing in strategy and policy for both businesses and nonprofits, and in the work and organization of top management. He has worked with many of the world's largest corporations and with small and entrepreneurial companies; with nonprofits such as universities, hospitals and community services; and with agencies of the U.S. Government as well as with Free-World governments such as those of Canada and Japan. In the past, Mr. Drucker has variously been economist for an international bank in London; American economist for a group of British and European banks and investment trusts; and American correspondent for a group of British newspapers.
From 1950 to 1971, Mr. Drucker was Professor of Management at the Graduate Business School of New York University which awarded him the university s highest honor, the Presidential Citation in 1969. From 1979 to 1985, he also served as Professorial Lecturer in Oriental Art at Pomona College, one of the Claremont Colleges. He also acted as Professor of Politics and Philosophy at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont.
A prolific writer on subjects relating to society, economics, politics and management, Mr. Drucker has published 30 books which have been translated into more than twenty languages. In addition to his writings on management and economics, he has written an autobiographical book entitled, Adventures of a Bystander,and co-authored Adventures of the Brush; Japanese Paintings.Mr. Drucker has made several series of educational movies based on his management books, and he was an editorial columnist for the Wall Street Journalfrom 1975 to 1995, and serves as a frequent contributor to magazines.
Mr. Drucker is married and has four children and six grandchildren.
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