Introduction: What Makes an Effective Executive?

Effective executives follow these eight practices:
Gain knowledge

  • They asked, “What needs to be done?”
  • They asked, “What is right for the enterprise?”

Convert knowledge into action

  • They developed action plans.
  • They took responsibility for decisions.
  • They took responsibility for communicating.
  • They were focused on opportunities rather than problems.

Create a culture of responsibility and accountability

  • They ran productive meetings.
  • They thought and said “we” rather than “I”.

Taking responsibility for decisions
A decision has not been made until people know:

  • the name of the person accountable for carrying it out;
  • the deadline;
  • the names of the people who will be affected by the decision and therefore have to know about, understand. and approve it – or at least not be strongly opposed to it – and
  • the names of the people who have to be informed of the decision, even if they are not directly affected by it.

Focusing on opportunities
Executives scan these seven situations for opportunities:

  • an unexpected success of failure in their own enterprise, in a competing enterprise, or in the industry;
  • a gap between what is and what could be in a market, process, product, or service;
  • innovation in a process, product, or service, whether inside or outside the enterprise or its industry;
  • changes in industry and market structure;
  • demographics;
  • changes in mind-set, values, perceptions, mood, or meaning; and
  • new knowledge or a new technology.

Types of productive meetings

  • a meeting to prepare a statement, an announcement, or a press release: creat a draft before, and select a member to take responsibility for disseminating the final.
  • a meeting to make an announcement about the organization to the organization: stick to the announcement and a discussion of it.
  • a meeting in which one member reports: discuss nothing but the report.
  • a meeting in which several, or all members report:
    • no discussion at all, except for clarifying questions.
    • or, distribute reports before the meeting, set a time limit for presentation and Q&A.
  • a meeting to inform the convening executive: the executive listens and asks questions, and summarizes the topic.

Chapter One: Effectiveness Can Be Learned

Why We Need Effective Exectutives

Who is an Executive?

Executive Realities

The Promise of Effectiveness

But Can Effectiveness Be Learned?

Chapter Two: Know Thy Time

The foundation of executive effectiveness is a three step process:

  • recording time,
  • managing time, and
  • consolidating time.

The Time Demands on the Executive

Time Diagnosis

Keep a log of your time is spent and ask these questions of each item.

  • What would happen if this were not done at all?
  • Which of these activities could be done by somebody else just as well, if not better?
  • Ask of the team, What do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness?

Pruning the Time-Wasters

  • Lack of systems or foresight
  • Overstaffing
  • Malorganization
  • Malfunction in information

Consolidating “Discretionary Time”

Chapter Three: What Can I Contribute?

The Executive’s Own Commitment

How to Make the Specialist Effective

The Right Human Relations

The four basic requirements of effective human relations:

  • communications;
  • teamwork;
  • self-development; and,
  • development of others.

The Effective Meeting

Chapter Four: Making Strength Productive

Staffing From Strength

How do effective executives staff for strength without stumbling into the opposite trap of building jobs to suit personalities?

  • They keep a eye out for the impossible job. A job that looks good on paper but is not for normal human beings.
  • Make each job demanding and big.
  • They do their thinking about people long before the decision to fill a job has been made and independently of it.
  • They know that to get strength one has to put up with weaknesses.

Formal Appraisal Procedure:
Start with a statement of the major contributions expected from a person in the past and present postions and a record of performance against those goals. Then ask these four questions:

  • What has this person done well?
  • What, therefore, are they likely to be able to do well?
  • What does this person have to learn or to acquire to be able to get full benefit from their strength?
  • If I had a child, would I be willing to have my child work under this person? why, or why not?

How Do I Manage My Boss?

Making Yourself Effective

Chapter Five: First Things First

Sloughing Off Yesterday

Priorities and Posteriorities

Courage rather than analysis dictates the truly important rules for identifying priorities:

  • Pick the future as against the past;
  • Focus on opportunity rather than on problem;
  • Choose your own direction – rather than climb on the bandwagon; and
  • Aim high, aim for something that will make a difference, rather than for something that is “safe” and easy to do.

Concentration – that is, the courage to impose on time and events his own decision as to what really matters and comes first – is the executive’s only hope of becoming the master of time and events instead of their whipping boy.

Chapter Six: The Elements of Decision-Making

Two Case Studies in Decision Making

The Elements of the Decision Process

Important features of decisions:

  • Realize that generic problems can only be solved through a decision which establishes a rule or principle;
  • Define the specification which the answer to the problem has to satisfy, that is, the “boundary conditions”;
  • Think through what is “right”, that is, the solution which will fully satisfy the specifications before attention is paid to the compromises, adaptations, and concessions needed to make the decision acceptable;
  • Build into the decision the action to carry it out;
  • Identify the feedback loop which will test the validity and effectiveness of the decision against the actual course of events.

Chapter Seven: Effective Decisions

A decision is a judgement. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between right and wrong. It is best a choice between “almost right” and “probably wrong” – but much more often a choice between two courses of action neither of which is provably more nearly right than the other.

To get the facs first is impossible. There are no facts unless one has a criterion of relevance. Events by themselves are not facts.

Decision Making and the Computer

The computer multiplies man’s capacity, it does not do anything that man can not do. Unlike an airplane, the wheel, or a television set which extends man’s nature.

Conclusion: Effectiveness Must Be Learned

This book rests on two premises:

  • The executive’s job is to be effective; and
  • Effectiveness can be learned.

The process of learning effectiveness is composed of the following:

  • Recording and analysis of where ones time is invested;
  • Focus your vision on contribution;
  • Make your strengths ( and the strengths of your team ) productive;
  • Prioritization through leadership;
  • Effective decision making.