pyramid to dna

The Effective Executive in Action: foreword and introduction

Amazon link: Effective Executive in Action: A Journal for Getting the Right Things Done

Contents of The Effective Executive in Action


Also see The Effective Executive preface and detailed contents by Peter Drucker



The keywords of this book are "effective" and "action."

Knowledgeable executives are plentiful; effective executives are much rarer. But executives are not being paid for knowing.

They are being paid for getting the right things done (in an unfolding world).

How to decide what are the right things and how to get them done are the topics of this book—a distillation of sixty years of working with effective executives in business; governments; the military; churches and other non-profits such as universities, museums, hospitals, and trade unions in the United States of America and Canada, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Japan, and mainland Asia.

This is both a "what to do" and a "how to do it" book.

It is also a self-development tool.

By using the fill-in sections to record decisions, the reasons underlying them, and the expected results and checking those against actual results, executives and other professional contributors will fast learn what they do well, what they need to improve upon, and what they cannot even do poorly and should not be doing at all.

They will learn where they belong.

The format of this book was developed by my friend and colleague, Joseph A. Maciariello, who has taught my work for thirty years and knows it much better than I do.

Professor Maciariello decided on the topics.

He then chose the specific excerpts from my books and works by others, which constitute the text of this work, and wrote the questions.

My readers and I are greatly indebted to Professor Maciariello.

However, the book itself should be the comments, actions, decisions, and results recorded by the individual executive using the book as his or her tool to achieve effectiveness.

Peter F. Drucker Claremont, California Fall 2005





How to Use The Effective Executive in Action

The Effective Executive in Action is a companion book to The Effective Executive.

It provides a step-by-step guide for training yourself to be an effective person, an effective knowledge worker, and an effective executive—for training yourself to get the right things done.

The book will help you develop habits of effectiveness, to apply wisdom to your tasks.

There are five practices or skills to acquire to be an effective person. These five are

  • Managing your time;
  • Focusing your efforts on making contributions;
  • Making your strengths productive;
  • Concentrating your efforts on those tasks that are most important to results; and
  • Making effective decisions.

The first practice, managing your time, and the fourth practice, concentrating your efforts on the most important tasks, are twin pillars upon which effectiveness rests.

You can obtain greater quantities of every other resource except time.

Time is your most limiting resource so time management is foundational to getting the right things done.

Improving your effectiveness begins by finding out where your time goes and then taking steps to eliminate those tasks that waste your time and the time of others.

Once you have eliminated time wasters the second pillar is to set priorities for the use of your time and to concentrate the application of your time to the highest priority tasks.

Here you should give priority to those tasks that make the greatest contribution to your organization.

Establishing priorities, and concentrating your efforts on them, is a skill that requires foresight and courage.

The remaining skills rest upon these twin pillars of time management and concentration on priorities.

To get the right things done you must learn to focus your time and effort upon the tasks that will produce results for your organization.

Here you are first concerned with "what are results for my position?" And then, "how do I go about gaining commitment from others to help me attain these results?"

Next, you must learn to focus on strengths, yours, your subordinates', and your bosses'.

You must take steps to develop your talents and the talents of others.

Your staffing and appraisal decisions must be made based upon what a person can do, based upon his or her strengths, not on weaknesses.

The one exception to the rule of focusing on strengths in staffing decisions is character and integrity.

The presence of integrity accomplishes nothing in itself, but its absence in the leaders of your organization faults everything else because of the poor example it sets for others.

The last practice of effectiveness is decision making.

Effective executives make effective decisions.

Decision making requires that you take specific steps, such as making sure you have defined the problem correctly and have established correct specifications for an effective decision.

But effective decisions often result from a clash of opinions.

And decisions are not effective until they are turned into work and are followed up by feedback from their results.

You will not develop into an effective person simply by reading this book.

Skills are developed by "doing" and by constant practice.

This book provides you with opportunities to develop your skills.

These opportunities consist of questions and actions at the end of each reading.

To get the most from this book, you should fill in the open spaces with answers to the questions and action steps that are posed after each reading.

The questions and actions are the skill-building exercises in this book.

Questions probe your present practices.

They lead you to specific responses.

In contrast, actions call for steps to improve your performance and achievement.

You should formulate specific actions that are appropriate for managing yourself and organizations.

We suggest that you learn one skill at a time.

Each reading in this book is referenced to a section in its source book, The Effective Executive.

The references at the end of each teaching are to specific and general passages in The Effective Executive that pertain to the reading.

The teachings, moreover, have been updated to reflect the numerous writings of Peter Drucker since the publication of The Effective Executive.

Where Peter Drucker has written or spoken specifically about one of these five practices the material has been incorporated into the primary readings of each chapter.

In addition, the numerous sidebars in this book contain parallel readings from other works of Peter Drucker that refer more generally to each topic.

In some of the readings, the sidebars also contain appropriate material from other authors that supplement the point made in the reading.

We wish you success in your pursuit of effectiveness.

Remember, with the exception of "integrity," which has to do with "being," the five skills of effectiveness have to do with "doing."

Consequently, the skills of effectiveness can only be acquired by practice and more practice.

Calendarize this practice along with your foundation for future directed decisions.

Effectiveness can be learned.

Effectiveness must be learned.

See the Effective Executive in Action outline for more info


See Edward de Bono's Six Value Medals to explore the idea of scanning for the values (what's important); Six Frames for Thinking about Information; Six Thinking Hats; Six Action Shoes; and Teach Yourself to Think are useful in focusing attention on action landscape details. The project planning section in David Allen's Getting Things provides an action implementation framework. Tom Peter's Project50 provides a checklist of social landscape actions.



“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 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




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

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 figure out a coping plan for 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 starting point



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