Continuing this week’s focus on book reviews, today I’ll be looking at The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker. Any business student can tell you that Drucker is the father of research in business management and reading this book absolutely reinforces that fact. By the way, here’s a quick fun fact for you – The Effective Executive was first published in 1967. You can tell when you’re reading a good business book when you’re reading information which was published over four decades ago and yet is still extremely relevant to the business world!
This is a fun book to read if you’re the type of person who is constantly observing and making mental notes about the environment in which you work. Drucker provides ample opportunities throughout The Effective Executive to give examples of effectiveness and ineffectiveness in the workplace. And for a guy like me who is sometimes excited to be going to the office and sometimes just fulfilling “the grind” to get the paycheck, I was both enlightened and entertained by the effective/ineffective examples.
For example, Drucker talks about the President of a bank and how he scheduled his time throughout the week. The President of the bank was sure to leave a few mornings open each week just in case something “popped up.” Since I work for a financial intermediary, this story – in particular – made me think about the folks over at my office. Frankly, many of us could use some flexible time during the week for all of those crazy things that pop up out of nowhere. During the same conversation in the book, Drucker writes about how another method used by effective executives to spend time on their work is to schedule a period of time where they’ll work from home each morning.
And it’s this particular item that really sticks in my head after reading this book. For those of you fresh out of college or graduate school and the rest of you that can remember either of these time periods in your life, I think you’ll have to agree that you were most productive as a student during odd times of the day. When I think about how I can be most effective for my clients today, it often skips my mind to think about when I can be most effective. I spent the first 25 years of my life in various schools (and a strong argument can be made that I’m still in some sort of school environment today via the independent study I’m taking at the local college). During that quarter century, I was programmed to complete everything from daily homework to major assignments at odd times of the day – mostly late at night and early in the morning.
Applying Drucker’s research finding that effective executives often spend some time working at their home office in the morning seems like an excellent way to use some of the skills that I’ve inherently created to create a positive impact at my current job. However, as that thought rattled around my head while I was reading this book, I remembered that my office is about an hour from home and that it just wasn’t a feasible option.
And that’s a damn shame for a creative guy like me. Oh well.
The other item from this book that sticks with me is found on the top of page 158 in the version linked above. Here, Drucker writes that the effective executive will not consistently depend on study after study to make a decision. Instead, he will make a decision. Here is the actual text from The Effective Executive:
One thing the effective executive will not do at this point. He will not give in to the cry, “Let’s make another study.” This is the coward’s way – and all the coward achieves is to die a thousand deaths where the brave man dies but one. When confronted with the demand for “another study” the effective executive asks: “Is there any reason to believe that additional study will produce anything new? And is there reason to believe that the new is likely to be relevant?” And if the answer is “no – as it usually is – the effective executive does not permit another study. He does not waste the time of good people to cover up his own indecision.
Those words should be imprinted above the desk of every major decision-maker at every major corporation in the world! I can’t stand when people want to spend additional resources studying something that we already know the answer to; it’s a waste!
The Effective Executive is one of those business books that I’ll definitely be coming back to time and time again. I envision this as a reference book on my bookshelf as it contains the type of information that is timeless for the working professional. If you’re a worker in the business world and you want to better understand the mechanics of the best management practices, then you should pick up a copy of The Effective Executive. The knowledge in this book, if applied and reinforced in your professional life, has the ability to change your status in the business world.