I recently finished Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive. It was a great read that provided a rigorous and well-reasoned understanding of knowledge work, which comprises the majority of new careers today.
Several things I took away from this book:
1. Five key habits of effective executives:
- Effective executives know where their time goes. They work systematically at managing the little of their time that can be brought under their control.
- Effective executives focus on outward contribution. They gear their efforts to results rather than to work. They start out with the question, “What results are expected of me?” rather than with the work to be done, let alone with its techniques and tools.
- Effective executives build on strengths — their own strengths, the strengths of their superiors, colleagues, and subordinates; and on the strengths in the situation, that is, on what they can do. They do not build on weakness. They do not start out with the things they cannot do.
- Effective executives concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results. They force themselves to set priorities and stay with their priority decisions. They know that they have no choice but to do first things first — and second things not at all. The alternative is to get nothing done.
- Effective executives, finally, make effective decisions. They know that this is, above all, a matter of system — of the right steps in the right sequence. They know that an effective decision is always a judgment based on “dissenting opinions” rather than on “consensus on the facts.” And they know that to make many decisions fast means to make the wrong decisions. What is needed are few, but fundamental, decisions. What is needed is the right strategy rather than razzle-dazzle tactics.
2. Knowledge work as differentiated from manufacturing work
Moreover, because knowledge work cannot be measured the way manual work can, one cannot tell a knowledge worker in a few simple words whether he is doing the right job and how well he is doing it.
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