I finally got around to reading the classic The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter F. Drucker. It did not disappoint. It was short and sweet and had a lot of nuggets of wisdom.
As I've recently been part of a very fast growing team, I've wondered how executive time is best spent. This book provides a great theoretical framework for thinking about that. Yes, some of the language around computers or secretaries is a bit dated, but that did not interfere in any way with the main messages. I highly recommend this to someone in a leadership role in any fast growing organization.
My main notes and takeaways are below.
Intro by Jim Collins
First, manage thyself
Do what you’re made for. Build on your strength.
Work how you work best.
Count your time and make it count
Don’t make a hundred decisions when one will do
Find your one big distinctive impact
Stop what you would not start
Intro: what makes an effective executive
What needs to be done
What is right for the enterprise
Responsibility for decisions
Responsibility for communicating
Focus on opportunities rather than problems
Run productive meetings
Say we rather than I
Get the knowledge you need first
Create and frequently revise action plan
Listen first. Speak last.
1 effectiveness can be learned
Know where time goes
Focus on results and outward contribution
Build on strengths not weaknesses
Concentrate on the few major areas where can get results
Make effective decisions
2 know thy time
Time is the limiting resource
Time diagnosis. Record time use. Don’t use memory to record later.
Which activities could be removed or delegated
Ask others: what do I do that wastes your time and doesn’t contribute to your effectiveness?
Never have the same crisis twice. Put things down into routine.
Remove extraneous meetings
Consolidate discretionary time. Meetings Monday’s and Friday’s. Tue through thu left open for work or pop ups. Scheduled daily work period.
3 what can I contribute
Focus on contribution not effort
4 making strength productive
Don’t build impossible jobs no one can do
5 first things first
Concentrate and focus
one thing at a time
Ignore past and sunk costs
6 elements of decision making
Is this a generic situation or an exception
Generic situations need rule or policy or principle
Start out with what is right and not just what is acceptable
Go and look for oneself to verify information
7 effective decisions
Encourage dissent and discussion
Don’t make decision until there is disagreement
Conclusion effectiveness must be learned
How will you make Monday different
Make list of posteriorities (opposite of priorities: what you won’t do)