The Effective Executive, by Peter Drucker

Below are the notes I took while listening to the audiobook, The Effective Executive, written by Peter Drucker. Many of these notes were initially typed on my phone, sometimes while running. So, please excuse the brevity and any typos I overlooked. The book is a classic management book. It's more informative than it is entertaining. Frankly, it took me awhile to get through this one, though I'm glad I did finish it. These are notes I took for myself and are intended to serve as a supplement to your reading or serve as a refresher if you've already read it. Hopefully it is of some value to you. If you enjoy, please be sure to check out other book notes and reviews by clicking on the #BookNotes tag below. Thank you!

Reviews of decisions need to be put in place to prevent too much damage from wrong decisions. 

This is particularly important for the most important decisions, like hiring and promoting people. Studies show that 1/3 of these decisions will be truly successful. 1/3 will be draws. 1/3 will be outright failures. Check in 6-9 months later and if the decision was a failure, recognize it is the failure of the executive. Not the employee. 

People that fail at their job after promotion should be given the opportunity to return to a previous job at their former level and salary. This encourages people to take risks with new jobs. 

Good executives know their strengths and weaknesses and in areas that are not their strength, they delegate. 

Organizations are held together by information. Not ownership or command. The effective executive identifies the correct information they need and doesn't stop asking until he gets it. 

Effective executives treat change as an opportunity rather than a threat - changes inside and outside the enterprise. 

Effective executives don't let problems overwhelm opportunities. And effective executives put their best people on opportunities rather than problems. 

Make meetings productive. 

Listen first. Speak last. 

Executives are often intelligent, imaginative, and have a high level of knowledge. But that does not make them effective. The imaginative idea alone is nothing if an executive is not able to execute effectively. 

Efficiency is getting things done right. Not necessarily getting the right things done. 

Reasons executives are ineffective, built into the process. 

  1. Executives time is other people's

  2. Executives are forced to keep operating unless they change the direction

  3. Executives are within an organization so they're limited by what and how others use his work

  4. Executives are within an organization and limited in what they know outside of the organization

5 habits to acquire

  1. Know where time goes

  2. Focus on outward contribution - results

  3. Build on strengths, not weakness

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

  5. Make effective decisions

Effective executives start with their time, not tasks. Memory is not reliable, you must track it to determine where time is going. 

It's amazing how many things busy people are doing that will never be missed. 

Record your time. Which activities can be eliminated? Which delegated? Which are wastes of of other people's time? 

A well managed organization is a boring one, because good preparation eliminates nearly all chaos.

Hire only people you need on day to day basis. Don't over staff. Over skilled and under worked people on your staff bring only mischief. 

You can be working or you can be meeting. You can't do both at the same time. 

Misuse of information is a key waste of time. 

Executives that say they have 50% of their time under their control rarely have any idea where there time is going. 

Small dribbles of time - 15 min here and there - are worthless. Chunks of 90 min are far more productive. Many executives block time at home to do important matters. Morning is better than evening. 

If time isn't managed, nothing else can be managed. 

Focus on contribution is key to the effective executive. Don't focus on effort, focus on results. 

The man who focuses on efforts and who stresses his downward authority is a subordinate no matter how exalted his title and rank. The man who focuses on contributions and who takes responsibility for results no matter how junior is in the most literal sense of the phrase, top management. He holds himself accountable for the performance of the whole. 

An effective organization should steadily upgrade it human resources. 

The most common reason executives fail is inability or unwillingness to change with demands of the position. 

Hire to maximize strengths, not minimize weakness. 

Effective executives know that subordinates are paid to perform and not please their superiors. It doesn't matter how many tantrums a prima donna throws, it matters if they bring in the customers. 

Effective executives do first things first, one thing at a time, and focuses on results instead of being busy. 

There's no sense in having the most efficient buggy whip company. Effective executives abandon the old when the old is no longer valuable. Failing to do so prevents the new and innovate from coming about. 

What gets postponed gets abandoned. 

Those research scientists who pick their projects according to the greatest likelihood of quick success rather than according to the challenge of the problem are unlikely to achieve distinction. 

Successful companies don't just develop new products for the existing line. They innovate for new markets. 

It's just as risky to do something small as it is something big. 

Effective executives don't make a great many decisions. They concentrate on the important ones. They aren't overly impressed by speed in decision making. Speed can mean sloppy thinking. They focus on being sound over being clever. 

Effective executives don't make many decisions because he solves generic situations through rule and policy. An executive who makes many decisions is both lazy and ineffectual. 

One has to start with what is right, not what is acceptable. 

If the greatest rewards are given for behavior that the course of action requires everyone will conclude the contradictory behavior is what management really wants. 

People start with opinions. As they should. People experienced in an area without an opinion are either unobservant or have a sluggish mind. And typically people will look for the facts that support their opinion. Opinions come first. As they should. As such, the effective executive encourages opinions and identifies what needs to be tested as a hypothesis. 

A blind Venetian is not the same thing as a Venetian blind. 

Assume people that disagree with you are rational, then seek to understand their view. This is what a smart lawyer does before a trial. 

If one asks, what will happen if we do nothing and the answer is, it will take care of itself, only a fool does something. 

Executives aren't paid to do things they like to do. They're paid to do the right things. 

Effectiveness can be learned. But it is a self discipline, not a subject.