Drucker on Concentration, Performance, Results – The Effective Executive – 6

“It is more productive to convert an opportunity into results than to solve a problem – which only restores the equilibrium of yesterday.”

In earlier posts in this series on Peter Drucker’s book The Effective Executive: the definitive guide to getting the right things done, we reviewed his list of basic practices:

Effective managers:

  1. “….know where their time goes.” 
  2. “….focus on outward contribution”
  3. “….build on strengths….” 
  4. “….concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results.”
  5. “…. make effective decisions.”

Peter Drucker's The Effective Executive

This posting is devoted to the fourth practice, concentrate where it counts.((1)) 

If there is any one “secret” of effectiveness, it is concentration. Effective executives do first things first and they do one thing at a time.((2)) Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. All quotes in this posting come from pages 100-112 in Peter Drucker The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done. Revised. Collins Business, 2006. []
  2. Note that decades before the controversies over so-called “multi-tasking” Drucker notes the singular importance that people can only effectively do one task at a time. I have written about this earlier in “Multitasking, Too Much Information, Interruptions, and High Performance”  []

Build on Strength – Drucker’s The Effective Executive – 5

In earlier posts in this series on Peter Drucker’s book The Effective Executive: the definitive guide to getting the right things done, we reviewed his list of basic practices:

Effective managers:

  • “….know where their time goes.” 
  • “….focus on outward contribution”
  • “….build on strengths….” 
  • “….concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results.”
  • “…. make effective decisions.”

Peter Drucker's The Effective ExecutiveThis posting is devoted to the third practice, build on strengths.((1))

The effective executive makes strength productive. He knows that one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all of the available strengths – the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities. To make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant. Its task is to use the strength of each man as a building block for joint performance.((2))

Enable Strengths and Make Weaknesses Inconsequential Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. All quotes in this posting come from pages 71-99 in Peter Drucker The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done. Revised. Collins Business, 2006. []
  2. Note again the dated language from 45 years ago []

Peter Drucker’s Little Red Book for the General Manager

Peter Drucker's The Effective ExecutivePeter Drucker’s The Effective Executive was first published in 1967 and has been in print ever since. I first read it during the 1980s. When I began to coach general managers and owners of small businesses I re-read it with a fresh perspective.

The Effective Executive continues to be a book that I return to for its little pearls of wisdom. Once you get over the now obscure examples from WWII and the 1950s and its dated language (e.g., the pronoun “she” never appears), it remains  a most useful and continuously provocative statement of the tasks of the general manager.

Here are a few quotes for illustration.

  • “In every area of effectiveness within an organization, one feeds the opportunities and starves the problems.”
  • “…the more an executive works at making strengths productive, the more he will become conscious of the need to concentrate human strengths available to him on major opportunities. This is the only way to get results.”
  • “No one has much difficulty getting rid of the total failures. They liquidate themselves. Yesterday’s successes, however, always linger on long beyond their productive life. Even more dangerous are the activities which should do well and which, for some reason or other, do not produce. These tend to become… “investments in managerial ego” and sacred.”
  • “Systematic sloughing off of the old is the one and only way to force the new.”
  • “…no decision has been made unless carrying it out in specific steps has become someone’s work assignment and responsibility. Until then, there are only good intentions.”
Find this little book (183 pages long), read it. You will be enriched.

Why Should You Develop a Business Plan for Going Concern, How to Do It, and How Do You Convert the Plan Into Action?

Why Should You Develop a Business Plan?

For every startup the development of a business plan is a  required first step. It is so obvious – business schools have course on writing the business plan and it is impossible to get funding without one. Teams coalesce around the labor. So, every startup has a business plan.

For the going concern, the ones that are now three or so more years old, the business plan (also called strategic plan -really the same thing) is forgotten, only stumbled on when a move forces someone to pick it up and wonder, “Should I just relegate this to the dumpster?”

This is not a good situation. A business without a plan is like a boat sitting in a pond just waiting to sink to the bottom for nature to compost it. Or, if it has the fate to be afloat in a stream, it will be carried along willy-nilly until it bumps into a stone or dead branch or reaches the ocean where nature will also send it to the big composter.

Every business exists in a world that is changing and filled with opportunities and threats. Your business plan is your set of oars to provide the means to pull in the direction you want to go in, to avoid the rocks. You might even row to shore and portage around the falls, to move to an entirely new river.

But, many people, even accepting the wisdom of having a plan, find it a painful exercise, all too easily avoided. This may be driven by the idea that a business plan involves dozens of pages of writing, lots of spreadsheets with numbers they really don’t believe (sometimes don’t understand). Business plans, strategic plans, these are just the exercises one does in business schools. Or it may be the folk wisdom that business plans are not a useful part of managing and they always end up on the shelf or hidden in a file cabinet only dusted off for display when in search of a bank loan.

However, shift your thinking to view the process of building a plan as a value in and of itself, and adopt a simpler more flexible business plan model you will find that building that set of oars for your little boat is fun and productive. Continue reading

Increase Your Value through Customer Perception in Professional Services

Most professional services firms, and many other companies where services are a significant component,  are troubled by customers who do not perceive or understand the true value of what they are providing. They have difficulty getting customers to pay for upfront diagnostic/assessment work,  concept modeling, prototype development, and so on. In some cases, professional services firms have difficulty sustaining the customers awareness and proper valuation of the work done during an engagement. This is a problem in financial services, for example, where planning and execution services seem invisible, or entirely obvious, and thus not valued by the customer. After all, I can do stock trades myself on the Internet. Where is the value-add from paying a financial services firm a management fee to do that?

Here is a conceptual model for improving how customers value services.

There are three basic phases in a service event or client engagement:

  1. Pre-service awareness – establishing expectations
  2. Service engagement – making the process visible
  3. Post-service follow up – the ongoing engagement

Lets walk through each of these phases and explore opportunities to increase customer perception of our value to them. Continue reading

Seize Your Time: the breakthrough first step in time management

A breakthrough first step in time management to become a more effective manager.

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