pyramid to dna

Effective Executive: Preface

by Peter Drucker — his other books
top of the food-chain




#Note the number of books about Drucker ↓


Inside Drucker's Brain World According to Drucker

My life as a knowledge worker

Drucker: a political or social ecologist ↑ ↓


“I am not a ‘theoretician’;

through my consulting practice

I am in daily touch with

the concrete opportunities and problems

of a fairly large number of institutions,

foremost among them businesses

but also hospitals, government agencies

and public-service institutions

such as museums and universities.


And I am working with such institutions

on several continents:

North America, including Canada and Mexico;

Latin America; Europe;

Japan and South East Asia.


Still, a consultant is at one remove

from the day-today practice —

that is both his strength

and his weakness.

And so my viewpoint

tends more to be that of an outsider.”

broad worldview ↑ ↓


Most mistakes in thinking ↑seeing only part of the picture


#pdw larger ↑ ::: Books by Peter Drucker ::: Rick Warren + Drucker

Peter Drucker's work

Books by Bob Buford and Walter Wriston

Global Peter Drucker Forum ::: Charles Handy — Starting small fires

Post-capitalist executive ↑ T. George Harris


harvest and implement

Learning to Learn (ecological awareness ::: operacy)

The MEMO “they” don’t want you to SEE




effective executive cover

Amazon Link: The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials)


See The Effective Executive for a detailed outline of its contents after reading the remainder of this page — it’s very important.


Executive Realities


What Makes An Effective Executive?


The Effective Executive in Action provides an explicit work approach


What Executives Should Remember?


Post-Capitalist executive interview — A MAJOR work-life brainroad !!!!!




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.


Remember all of this takes place within the sweep of history

movies in time movies in time





Management books usually deal with managing other people.

The subject of this book is managing oneself for effectiveness.

That one can truly manage other people is by no means adequately proven.

But one can always manage oneself.

Indeed, executives who do not manage themselves for effectiveness cannot possibly expect to manage their associates and subordinates.

Management is largely by example.

Executives who do not know how to make themselves effective in their own job and work set the wrong example.

Managing Oneself

Managing Oneself contents link: Managing Oneself (Harvard Business Review Classics)

To be reasonably effective it is not enough for the individual to be intelligent, to work hard or to be knowledgeable.

Effectiveness is something separate, something different.

But to be effective also does not require special gifts, special aptitude, or special training.

Effectiveness as an executive demands doing certain—and fairly simple—things.

It consists of a small number of practices, the practices that are presented and discussed in this book.

But these practices are not “inborn.”

In forty-five years of work as a consultant with a large number of executives in a wide variety of organizations—large and small; businesses, government agencies, labor unions, hospitals, universities, community services; American, European, Latin American and Japanese—I have not come across a single “natural”: an executive who was born effective.

All the effective ones have had to learn to be effective.

And all of them then had to practice (calendarize this?) effectiveness until it became habit.

But all the ones who worked on making themselves effective executives succeeded in doing so.

Effectiveness can be learned—and it also has to be learned.

see → Executive realities

Effectiveness is what executives are being paid for, whether they work as managers who are responsible for the performance of others as well as their own, or as individual professional contributors responsible for their own performance only.

Without effectiveness there is no “performance,” no matter how much intelligence and knowledge goes into the work, no matter how many hours it takes.

Yet it is perhaps not too surprising that we have so far paid little attention to the effective executive.

Organizations—whether business enterprises, large government agencies, labor unions, large hospitals or large universities—are, after all, brand new.

A century ago almost no one had even much contact with such organizations beyond an occasional trip to the local post office to mail a letter.

And effectiveness as an executive means effectiveness in and through an organization.

Until recently there was little reason for anyone to pay much attention to the effective executive or to worry about the low effectiveness of so many of them.

Now, however, most people—especially those with even a fair amount of schooling—can expect to spend all their working lives in an organization of some kind.

Society has become a society of organizations in all developed countries.

Now the effectiveness of the individual depends increasingly on his or her ability to be effective in an organization, to be effective as an executive.

And the effectiveness of a modern society and its ability to perform—perhaps even its ability to survive—depend increasingly on the effectiveness of the people who work as executives in the organizations.

The effective executive is fast becoming a key resource for society, and effectiveness as an executive a prime requirement for individual accomplishment and achievement—for young people at the beginning of their working lives fully as much as for people in mid-career.




Effectiveness Must Be learned

This is not a textbook, of course—if only because effectiveness, while capable of being learned, surely cannot be taught.

Effectiveness is, after all, not a “subject,” but a self-discipline. …

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

There is much more to the self-development of an executive than his training in effectiveness.

He has to acquire knowledges and skills.

He has to learn a good many new work habits as he proceeds along his career, and he will occasionally have to unlearn some old work habits.

(Calendarize these developments?)

But knowledges, skills, and habits, no matter how accomplished, will avail the executive little unless he first develops himself in effectiveness. …

There is nothing exalted about being an effective executive.

It is simply doing one’s job like thousands of others.

There is little danger that anyone will compare this essay on training oneself to be an effective executive with, say, Kierkegaard’s great self-development tract, Training in Christianity.

There are surely higher goals for a man’s life than to become an effective executive.

But only because the goal is so modest can we hope at all to achieve it; that is, to have the large number of effective executives modern society and its organizations need. …

If we required saints, poets, or even first-rate scholars to staff our knowledge positions, the large-scale organization would simply be absurd and impossible.

The needs of large-scale organization have to be satisfied by common people achieving uncommon performance.

This is what the effective executive has to make himself able to do.

Though this goal is a modest one, one that everyone should be able to reach if he works at it, the self-development of an effective executive is true development of the person.

It goes from mechanics to attitudes, values and character, from procedure to commitment. …

Self-development of the executive toward effectiveness is the only available answer.

It is the only way in which organization goals and individual needs can come together.


The executive who works at making strengths productive—his own as well as those of others—works at making organizational performance compatible with personal achievement.

He works at making his knowledge area become organizational opportunity.

And by focusing on contribution, he makes his own values become organization results.

The manual worker, so at least the nineteenth century believed, had only economic goals and was content with economic rewards.

That, as the “human relations” school demonstrated, was far from the whole truth.

It certainly ceased to be true the moment pay went above the subsistence level.

The knowledge worker demands economic rewards too.

Their absence is a deterrent.

But their presence is not enough.

He needs opportunity, he needs achievement, he needs fulfillment, he needs values.

Only by making himself an effective executive can the knowledge worker obtain these satisfactions.

Only executive effectiveness can enable this society to harmonize its two needs: the needs of organization to obtain from the individual the contribution it needs, and the need of the individual to have organization serve as his tool for the accomplishment of his purposes.

Effectiveness must be learned.




Introduction: What Makes An Effective Executive?

Executive realities

The Effective Executive in Action

An effective executive does not need to be a leader in the sense that the term is now most commonly used.

Harry Truman did not have one ounce of charisma, for example, yet he was among the most effective chief executives in U.S. history.

Similarly, some of the best business and nonprofit CEOs I’ve worked with over a 65-year consulting career (twenty years after the first part was written) were not stereotypical leaders.

They were all over the map in terms of their personalities, attitudes, values, strengths, and weaknesses.

They ranged from extroverted to nearly reclusive, from easy-going to controlling, from generous to parsimonious.

What made them all effective is that they followed the same eight practices:


bbx They asked, “What needs to be done?


“I’ve seen a great many people who are exceedingly good at execution, but exceedingly poor at picking the important things.

They are magnificent at getting the unimportant things done.

They have an impressive record of achievement on trivial matters” — PFD


A foundation for future directed decisions is essential

bbx What do I know that might apply to this task?

bbx about Management (a shock to the system)

bbx What Executives Should Remember

bbx Without an effective mission statement there will be no performance

bbx How to guarantee nonperformance

bbx Most mistakes in thinking are mistakes in PERCEPTION

bbx Peter Drucker On Leadership

bbx What Needs to Be Done

bbx Check Your Performance

bbx Mission Driven

bbx Creative Abandonment

bbx The Rise of the Modern Multinational

bbx 21st Century Organizations

bbx How To Lead a 21st Century Organization

bbx Prisoner of Your Own Organization

bbx How Organizations Fall Down

bbx The Transition from Entrepreneur to Large Company CEO

bbx How Capable Leaders Blow It

bbx The Danger Of Charisma

bbx How To Reinvigorate People

bbx Character Development

bbx about DECISIONS

bbx Familiarity with the memo landscape would be a good foundation.

bbx Drucker books with more landscape: Toward tomorrows; Time Related Management Books; Essay Collections

bbx The Definitive Drucker

bbx Managing in the Next Society

bbx Management Challenges for the 21st Century

bbx Management, Revised Edition

bbx They asked, “What is right for the enterprise?

See effective missions + continuity and change for starters

More thinking is required here

bbx They developed action plans.

bbx They took responsibility for decisions.

bbx They took responsibility for communicating.

bbx They were focused on opportunities rather than problems.

bbx They ran productive meetings.

bbx They thought and said “we” rather than “I.”

The first two practices gave them the knowledge they needed.

The next four helped them convert this knowledge into effective action.

The last two ensured that the whole organization felt responsible and accountable.

We’ve just reviewed eight practices of effective executives. I’m going to throw in one final, bonus practice. This one’s so important that I’ll elevate it to the level of a rule: Listen first, speak last.




Effective Executive Contents

  • Five practices—for getting the right things done

    • Managing the small amount of time that can be brought under their control.

    • Focus on outward contribution “What results are expected of me”?

    • Building on strength

      • Own strength

      • Strengths of superiors, colleagues, and subordinates

      • Strengths in the situation

    • Concentration on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results

      • Set priorities and stay with priority decisions.

      • Rules for identifying priorities

        • Pick the future against the past

        • Focus on opportunity rather than a problem

        • Choose own direction rather than climbing on the bandwagon

        • Aim high

          • Something that will make a difference

          • Rather than something “safe” & easy to do.

          • Elaboration

            • Achievement goes to the people who pick their research priorities by the opportunity and who consider other criteria only as qualifiers rather than as determinants

              Similarly, in business the successful companies are not those that work at developing new products for their existing line but those that aim at innovating new technologies or new businesses. As a rule it is just as risky, just as arduous, and just as uncertain to do something small that is new as it is to do something big that is new. It is more productive to convert an opportunity into results than to solve a problem—which only restores the equilibrium of yesterday

    • Make effective decisions

      • A matter of system

      • Right steps in the right sequence

      • A few fundamental decisions

      • The right strategy




Screaming!!! Attention!!!

See What Executives Should Remember for a broader “work” radar.

See The Effective Executive for a detailed outline.

See Effective Executive preview for a dynamic outline of The Effective Executive.

See The Effective Executive in Action for an initial “workbook” approach.

For a broader “life” frame see Living in more than one world : how Peter Drucker’s wisdom can inspire your life by Bruce Rosenstein.

The Daily Drucker is an even more comprehensive “radar” loading resource.

Early career work and Managing Oneself are basic foundations.

Consider the resources above along side Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change (the IBM turnaround) by Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. This comparison provides a “time-scape” view of our unfolding social world.

Please consider calendarizing these books and the other concepts on this page. Reading is useless without applying. Applying ain’t easy—think corporate crisis stories.

This work is the doorway to a genuinely interesting life.





The following ↓ is a condensed strategic brainscape that can be explored and modified to fit a user’s needs


The concepts and links below ↓ are …

major foundations ↓ for future directed decisionS

aimed at navigating

a world constantly moving toward unimagined futureS


YouTube: The History of the World in Two Hours
— beginning with the industrial revolution ↑ ↓

Management and the World’s Work

↑ In less than 150 years, management ↑ has transformed
the social and economic fabric of the world’s developed countries …


“Your thinking, choices, decisions are determined by
what you have seen edb


Take responsibility for yourself and
don’t depend on any one organization ↑ ↓ (bread-crumb trailS below)

We can only work on the thingS on our mental radar at a point in time

About time The future that has already happened


The economic and social health of our world
depends on
our capacity to navigate unimagined futureS
(and not be prisoners of the past)


The assumption that tomorrow is going to be
an extrapolation of yesterday sabotages the future — an
organization’s, a community’s and a nation’s future.

The assumption ↑ sabotages future generations — your children’s,
your grandchildren’s and your great grandchildren’s — in
spite of what the politicians say …

The vast majority of organization and political power structures
are engaged in this ↑ futile mind-set
while rationalizing the evidence


The future is unpredictable and that means
it ain’t going to be like today
(which was designed & produced yesterday)


The capacity to navigate is governed by what’s between our ears ↑ ↓




When we are involved in doing something ↑

it is extremely difficult to navigate

and very easy to become a prisoner of the past.


We need to maintain a pre-thought ↓

systematic approach to work and work approach

Click on either side of the image below to see a larger view

Harvest to action

Harvesting and implementing Work

based on reality

the non-linearity of time and events

and the unpredictability of the future

with its unimagined natureS. ↓ ↑


(It’s just a matter of time before we can’t get to the future
from where we are presently

Foundations and opportunities ::: larger view


Intelligence and behavior ↑ ↓ ← Niccolò Machiavelli ↑ ↓

Political ecologists believe that the traditional disciplines define fairly narrow and limited tools rather than meaningful and self-contained areas of knowledge, action, and eventscontinue

❡ ❡ ❡

Foundational ↑ Books → The Lessons of History — unfolding realities (The New Pluralism → in Landmarks of Tomorrow ::: in Frontiers of Management ::: How Can Government Function? ::: the need for a political and social theory ::: toward a theory of organizations then un-centralizing plus victims of success) ::: The Essential Drucker — your horizons? ::: Textbook of Wisdom — conceptual vision and imagination tools ::: The Daily Drucker — conceptual breadth ::: Management Cases (Revised Edition) see chapter titles for examples of “named” situations …


What do these ideas, concepts, horizons mean for me? continue



Society of Organizations

“Corporations once built to last like pyramids
are now more like tents.

Tomorrow they’re gone or in turmoil.”


“The failure to understand the nature, function, and
purpose of business enterprise” Chapter 9, Management Revised Edition

“The customer never buys ↑ what you think you sell.
And you don’t know it.

That’s why it’s so difficult to differentiate yourself.” Druckerism


“People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete
the things that should have worked but did not,
the things that once were productive and no longer are.” Druckerism


What Everybody Knows Is Frequently Wrong ::: If You Keep Doing What Worked in the Past You’re Going to Fail ::: Approach Problems with Your Ignorance — Not Your Experience ::: Develop Expertise Outside Your Field to Be an Effective Manager ::: Outstanding Performance Is Inconsistent with Fear of Failure ::: You Must Know Your People to Lead Them ::: People Have No Limits, Even After Failure ::: Base Your Strategy on the #Situation, Not on a Formula — A Class With Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World's Greatest Management Teacher


Why Peter Drucker Distrusted Facts (HBR blog) and here


Best people working on the wrong things continue


Conditions for survival


Going outside


Making the future — a chance for survival


“For what should America’s new owners, the pension funds,
hold corporate management accountable?” and
“Rather, they maximize the wealth-producing capacity of the enterprise”
Search for the quotes above here


Successful careerS are not planned ↑ here and


What do these issues, these challenges mean for me & … — an alternative


Exploration paths → The memo they don’t want you to see ::: Peter Drucker — top of the food chain ::: Work life foundations (links to Managing Oneself) ::: A century of social transformation ::: Post-capitalist executive interview ::: Allocating your life ::: What executives should remember ::: What makes an effective executive? ::: Innovation ::: Patriotism is not enough → citizenship is needed ::: Drucker’s “Time” and “Toward tomorrowS” books ::: Concepts (a WIP) ::: Site map a.k.a. brainscape, thoughtscape, timescape


Just reading ↑ is not enough, harvesting and action thinking are neededcontinue

Information ↑ is not enough, thinking ↓ is neededfirst then next + critical thinking


Larger view of thinking principles ↑ Text version ↑ :::
Always be constructiveWhat additional thinking is needed?


Initially and absolutely needed: the willingness and capacity to
regularly look outside of current mental involvements continue

bread-crumb trail end




Keywords and tags: career-evolution career-change career-early-work career-knowledge-worker career-management career-skills career-education tlnkweffectiveexecutive




“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence;

it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker



The shift from manual workers
who do as they are being told
either by the task or by the boss —

TO knowledge workers
who have to manage themselves

profoundly challenges social structure


Managing Oneself (PDF) is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” …

“It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities:
Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life),

and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context



More than anything else,

the individual
has to take more responsibility
for himself or herself,
rather than depend on the company.”


“Making a living is no longer enough
‘Work’ has to make a life .” continue

finding and selecting the pieces of the puzzle


The Second Curve




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving relentlessly toward unimagined futures.



What’s the next effective action on the road ahead




It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then working out a plan for coping with what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise.

A site exploration: The memo THEY don't want you to see



To create a site search, go to Google’s site ↓

Type the following in their search box ↓

your search text



What needs doing?




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