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    In a lean organization people have room to move without colliding with one another and can do their work without having to explain it all the time.

    ***

    Another common time-waster is malorganization. Its symptom is an excess of meetings.

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    Meetings are by definition a concession to deficient organization.  For one either meets or one works. One cannot do both at the same time.

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    As a rule, meetings should never be allowed to become the main demand on an executive’s time.

    ***

    Time-wasting management defects such as overstaffing, malorganization, or malfunctioning information can sometimes be remedied fast. At other times, it takes long, patient work to correct them. The results of such work are, however, great—and especially in terms of time gained.

    ***

    The effective executive therefore knows that he has to consolidate his discretionary time. He knows that he needs large chunks of time and that small driblets are no time at all. Even one quarter of the working day, if consolidated in large time units, is usually enough to get the important things done. But even three quarters of the working day are useless if they are only available as fifteen minutes here or half an hour there.

    ***

    The effective executive focuses on contribution.

    ***

    “What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?”

    ***

    The great majority of executives tend to focus downward. They are occupied with efforts rather than with results.

    ***

    The man who focuses on efforts and who stresses his downward authority is a subordinate no matter how exalted his title and rank. But the man who focuses on contribution and who takes responsibility for results, no matter how junior, is in the most literal sense of the phrase, “top management.” He holds himself accountable for the performance of the whole.

    ***

    every organization needs performance in three major areas: It needs direct results; building of values and their reaffirmation; and building and developing people for tomorrow. If deprived of performance in any one of these areas, it will decay and die.

    ***

    Finally, organization is, to a large extent, a means of overcoming the limitations mortality sets to what any one man can contribute.

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    Commitment to contribution is commitment to responsible effectiveness.

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    The most common cause of executive failure is inability or unwillingness to change with the demands of a new position. The executive who keeps on doing what he has done successfully before he moved is almost bound to fail.

    ***

    The task is not to breed generalists. It is to enable the specialist to make himself and his specialty effective. This means that he must think through who is to use his output and what the user needs to know and to understand to be able to make productive the fragment the specialist produces.

    ***

    The man of knowledge has always been expected to take responsibility for being understood. It is barbarian arrogance to assume that the layman can or should make the effort to understand him, and that it is enough if the man of knowledge talks to a handful of fellow experts who are his peers.

    ***

    If a man wants to be an executive—that is, if he wants to be considered responsible for his contribution—he has to concern himself with the usability of his “product”—that is, his knowledge.

    ***

    The focus on contribution by itself supplies the four basic requirements of effective human relations: communications; teamwork; self-development; and development of others.

    ***

    The man who asks of himself, “What is the most important contribution I can make to the performance of this organization?” asks in effect, “What self-development do I need? What knowledge and skill do I have to acquire to make the contribution I should be making? What strengths do I have to put to work? What standards do I have to set myself?”

    ***

    The meeting, the report, or the presentation are the typical work situation of the executive.

    ***

    Effective executives know what they expect to get out of a meeting, a report, or a presentation and what the purpose of the occasion is or should be. They ask themselves: “Why are we having this meeting? Do we want a decision, do we want to inform, or do we want to make clear to ourselves what we should be doing?”

    ***

    Focusing on contribution turns one of the inherent weaknesses of the executive’s situation—his dependence on other people, his being within the organization—into a source of strength. It creates a team.

    ***

    The effective executive makes strength productive. He knows that one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths—the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities.

    ***

    the test of organization is not genius. It is its capacity to make common people achieve uncommon performance.

    ***

    it is the duty of the executive to remove ruthlessly anyone—and especially any manager—who consistently fails to perform with high distinction.

    ***

    Few things make an executive as effective as building on the strengths of his superior.

    ***

    The assertion that “somebody else will not let me do anything” should always be suspected as a cover-up for inertia. But even where the situation does set limitations—and everyone lives and works within rather stringent limitations—there are usually important, meaningful, pertinent things that can be done.

    ***

    All in all, the effective executive tries to be himself; he does not pretend to be someone else. He looks at his own performance and at his own results and tries to discern a pattern. “What are the things,” he asks, “that I seem to be able to do with relative ease, while they come rather hard to other people?”

    ***

    In every area of effectiveness within an organization, one feeds the opportunities and starves the problems. Nowhere is this more important than in respect to people. The effective executive looks upon people including himself as an opportunity. He knows that only strength produces results. Weakness only produces headaches—and the absence of weakness produces nothing.

    ***

    In human affairs, the distance between the leaders and the average is a constant. If leadership performance is high, the average will go up.

    ***

    There is serious need for a new principle of effective administration under which every act, every agency, and every program of government is conceived as temporary and as expiring automatically after a fixed number of years—maybe ten—unless specifically prolonged by new legislation following careful outside study of the program, its results and its contributions.

    ***

    The executive who wants to be effective and who wants his organization to be effective polices all programs, all activities, all tasks.

    ***

    The truly important features of the decisions Vail and Sloan made are neither their novelty nor their controversial nature. They are: 1. The clear realization that the problem was generic and could only be solved through a decision which established a rule, a principle; 2. The definition of the specifications which the answer to the problem had to satisfy, that is, of the “boundary conditions”; 3. The thinking through what is “right,” that is, the solution which will fully satisfy the specifications before attention is given to the compromises, adaptations, and concessions needed to make the decision acceptable; 4. The building into the decision of the action to carry it out; 5. The “feedback” which tests the validity and effectiveness of the decision against the actual course of events. These are the elements of the effective decision process.

    ***

    The more an executive focuses on upward contribution, the more will he require fairly big continuous chunks of time. The more he switches from being busy to achieving results, the more will he shift to sustained efforts—efforts which require a fairly big quantum of time to bear fruit. Yet to get even that half-day or those two weeks of really productive time requires self-discipline and an iron determination to say “No.”

    ***

    But concentration is dictated also by the fact that most of us find it hard enough to do well even one thing at a time, let alone two.

    ***

    This is the “secret” of those people who “do so many things” and apparently so many difficult things. They do only one at a time. As a result, they need much less time in the end than the rest of us.

    ***

    Effective executives know that they have to get many things done—and done effectively. Therefore, they concentrate—their own time and energy as well as that of their organization—on doing one thing at a time, and on doing first things first.

    ***

    The first rule for the concentration of executive efforts is to slough off the past that has ceased to be productive. Effective executives periodically review their work programs—and those of their associates—and ask: “If we did not already do this, would we go into it now?” And unless the answer is an unconditional “Yes,” they drop the activity or curtail it sharply. At the least, they make sure that no more resources are being invested in the no-longer-productive past.

    ***

    The first rule for the concentration of executive efforts is to slough off the past that has ceased to be productive. Effective executives periodically review their work programs—and those of their associates—and ask: “If we did not already do this, would we go into it now?” And unless the answer is an unconditional “Yes,” they drop the activity or curtail it sharply. At the least, they make sure that no more resources are being invested in the no-longer-productive past.unconditional “Yes,” they drop the activity or curtail it sharply. At the least, they make sure that no more resources are being invested in the no-longer-productive past. And

    ***

    The first rule for the concentration of executive efforts is to slough off the past that has ceased to be productive. Effective executives periodically review their work programs—and those of their associates—and ask: “If we did not already do this, would we go into it now?” And unless the answer is an unconditional “Yes,” they drop the activity or curtail it sharply.

    ***

    One hires new people to expand on already established and smoothly running activity. But one starts something new with people of tested and proven strength, that is, with veterans. Every new task is such a gamble—even if other people have done the same job many times before—that an experienced and effective executive will not, if humanly possible, add to it the additional gamble of hiring an outsider to take charge. He has learned the hard way how many men who looked like geniuses when they worked elsewhere show up as miserable failures six months after they have started working “for us.”



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