A Critical Analysis of
The Effective Executive
By Peter Drucker
1. Book Summary
2. Critical Analysis
-- An evaluation of the book based on a series of criteria using an 11 point scale.
-- Time management and planning
-- Proper use within organizations
c. Decision Making
-- Importance of making effective decisions
4. Model & Conclusion
-- How relevant the book is to modern times
b. Applications to the real world
-- How the book applies, and can be applied to the real world
-- How solid are the ideas in the book
d. Ease of Application
-- How difficult is it to implement the items laid forth in the book
e. Overall Effectiveness
-- How effective is the process when applied to modern management
In Peter Drucker‟s The Effective Executive, he states that anyone in an
organization who makes decisions, is an executive. He also says that the purpose of an
executive is to be effective, and to get the right things done. Drucker goes on to talk
about how to become an effective executive by managing your time, contributing to the
Effectiveness can be learned. This theme is present throughout the book, and
made clear in the beginning of it. Good executives learned to be effective, they were not
born with a gift of effectiveness. To be more in depth, an executive is only as effective as
those who he effects; so in-turn, even the regular workers of an organization can and need
to learn to be effective.
To be effective, one must manage their time well. Time is an in-elastic
commodity in which there is never enough of it. Lost time can never be brought back,
and unlike labor, which can be made up for with money, time cannot be bought.
Executives need to learn to manage their time. By recording a time schedule to map out
how they spend their time, executives see how much time is wasted on little, and not-so-
little things. Delegation can be used to pass tasks to others who might be better suited for
them, which then frees up time for the executive to get the right things done.
Contribution is the next key ingredient to become an effective executive. Without
contributing to the organization, an executive does nothing. Those who are effective, ask
the question: “What can I do with my skills and knowledge for the organization?” The
executive who asks that question will be the one who knows what the right things are, so
that they can get the right things done.
Strengths are also key to the effective executive. Not necessarily for the
executive to have a lot of strengths, but for the executive to see and use the strengths of
others to get the right things done. The downfall for many executives who are not
effective is that they focus on weaknesses, or the lack thereof. To them, good employees
need to be free of weaknesses, and to be well-rounded. However, executives who choose
employees who are “well-rounded” tend to be jacks of all trades, masters of none. It is
better for an executive to see a person‟s strengths, and capitalize on those strengths. They
should ignore that the person may also have equally strong weaknesses, as those
weaknesses are most likely irrelevant to the job at hand.
To the effective executive, time management, as described above, goes hand-in-
hand with doing things in the proper order. Executives need to plan, and visualize what
needs to get done, and what needs to happen to get it done. By doing first things first,
and completing step one before step two, executives can guarantee that they will get done
what they set out to do. This produces leadership within the executive, a vision or drive
towards the end goal.
Lastly, the purpose of an executive is to make decisions. To be an effective
executive, one must make decisions effectively. To make a decision is to make a
judgment between one option and its alternatives. These judgments need to be based on
facts rather than opinions. Effective executives also know that traditional measurements
and choices are not necessarily the right one; so they see alternatives, which lead to more
effective choices and solutions. Making effective decisions is not a clear path to follow,
but there are clear benchmarks and standards with which to use to measure the
effectiveness of each decision.
When critically analyzing this book, we had to assess what Drucker said and
determine how it could be applied to management. We used 10 criteria to analyze this
book; they are measured on an 11 point scale with 0 being the lowest and 10 being the
Credentials. The first criteria used to critically analyze this book are the author
credentials and their relevance. We gave this category a four because we felt that
Drucker has an acceptable research background. He has talked with and observed
managers throughout the world over the years. This gives Drucker knowledge of the
business world and the everyday activities of a manager. However, he lacks relevant
work experience which implies that this book is simply his opinion on what he has
observed and not experienced for himself. This is a problem because people could
perceive managers actions differently than the way Drucker did. Although he has not had
any direct experience in the management field, he has written over 20 books which have
been accepted by many managers throughout the years.
Face Validity. For face validity, we gave this category an eight. We feel that he
has a good message when he says that managers need to get the right things done. This
fits with our prior experiences because past managers that we have had have always been
able to get the right things done. Another theme that Drucker introduced is that
effectiveness can be learned. This theme also fits prior experiences because we have
seen managers improve their effectiveness over time.
Authors Integration. We gave author integration of other sources a 10 because
Drucker provides many real world examples of how his ideas have worked in the past.
These other sources make the information relevant to the theme of the book. He also
observed and researched various executives throughout a wide range of industries. He
did this to integrate their ideas and experiences to what he was trying to talk about in his
Readability. The next criteria that we used were the readability and interest
level. The book was not very interesting because after the first couple pages of each
chapter, the topics seemed to be repetitive. On the upside, the book is written with easy
to understand words and large print. In addition, the use of bullets helped to break up the
text and make the reader focus on the examples that he was trying to give instead of
within the text. Also, the use of an index at the back of the book makes finding specific
information very easy. As a result, we give this category a six.
Internal Validity. The internal validity is the next topic that we analyzed. We
gave this category a three because Drucker based his book mainly on observations of
different organizations that he made over his lifetime. He fails to seek other people‟s
observations. This means that the book is strictly based on one person‟s opinions. He
never stated that he conducted field studies or experiments within different industries for
this book. Since Drucker doesn‟t provide additional studies of executives, we feel that
his opinions may not be the same as those of others who read the book.
Reliability. The reliability for this book is fairly high. Throughout the book he
repeated many observations that he made. Also, he has written many other management
books which means that he has done other observations in the past. In addition, the
conclusions are stated at the end of each chapter and also revisited at the end of the book.
This makes the points that he thinks are important stick in the readers mind. This is very
effective because it helps the reader understand the main points of the book without
searching for the main points. As a result, this category receives a seven.
Distinctiveness. In terms of distinctiveness, we give this category a six. We feel
that this management book is unique in the sense that it focuses on managing one‟s self
as opposed to managing others. Drucker makes the point that before an executive can
effectively manage others, he or she must first learn how to be effective themselves. On
the downside, this book has been re-released which means that the examples are
extremely out of date. The business world has changed a great deal since the 1960s. As
a result, the examples that are used may lead the reader to guess how they reflect the
Objectivity. On the subject of objectivity, Drucker “pitches” the idea of
managing oneself before managing others. He uses examples of industry practices that
back up what he is saying. Drucker does not seem to be open to criticism of his ideas.
He basically states his ideas in a way that are hard to argue with. We give this category a
five on the basis that we feel he pitches a new style but is not very open to criticism about
Practicality. In the category of practicality and ease of application, we rated this
area as a nine. Drucker explains that we are all capable of learning however, it takes time
and effort. He clearly explains how is ideas can be implemented in the management
world. He talks about how it can be learned and how the reader can contribute what he or
she has learned to a management position. The process is formatted with detailed
guidance for the reader. The layout of the topics are structured in a way that the reader
can first learn how to be effective and then how to apply it to management decisions.
External Validity. The final category that we analyzed was external validity
which we gave a seven. Drucker examines multiple industries that have displayed his
techniques. This means that people are actually using his techniques in the real world.
This gives the reader confidence knowing that the ideas can be applied to the
management world. In addition, Drucker stresses the fact that his idea of being effective
can be applied to anybody, not just managers. The idea is that anybody who is in a
managing role can make effective decisions whether it is business related or not. For
example, a coach of a football team might find these ideas very useful or a student in a
group project could find it useful as well.
The book The Effective Executive does incorporate many of the topics covered in
our textbook, Management Organizational Behavior. Drucker does not come right out
and discuss the exact same topics, but he works the same ideas into his material. For
example, our text states the importance of setting organizational goals. The Effective
Executive also discusses how having well established goals are important for an executive
to have direction and motivation. Drucker then takes it another step by commenting on
how important it is to communicate these goals to everyone involved.
In the chapter Know Thy Time, Drucker explains the importance of knowing
where you are spending your time throughout the day. He states that time management
can really make a difference in the effectiveness of an executive. This is basically the
same thing as planning, which our text covers extensively. If you have a well thought out
plan, then you should be well aware of where your time is going.
Both books discuss performance appraisal as well. Drucker focuses more on the
reasons for appraisal than on the different appraisal techniques like Pierce and Gardner
do. Both agree that measuring performance is important, but that it is commonly misused
today. The Effective Executive states that many companies have appraisal systems in
place, but they are seldom used. Our text agrees with this, but then goes on to say that
most managers are not properly trained to use them effectively.
Finally, the main topic that they both discuss at length is decision making. Even
though they both agree that the decision making process is an essential aspect of a
managers role in an organization, they have different steps in the processes they give.
Both have a similar first step which consists of examining the problem at hand. After this
first step, our text suggests that a manager must then generate, evaluate, and choose an
alternatives as possible solutions. This is quite different from Drucker‟s process. He
suggests that you must then set goals for the decision, make sure you have the „right‟
solution, put your decision into action and give feedback on how well the decision went.
Both seem like solid decision making processes, but Drucker‟s seems like it would be
easier to follow.
Model & Conclusion:
To answer the overall question of how good the book is, we developed a model
that can be used to judge a management book. This model is on a scale of 1 to 10, where
1 is low, and 10 is high. The model analyzes the book‟s relevance to the modern
business world, applications to the real world, substance, ease of application, and
effectiveness. We chose this model because modern management books need to be
relevant to the modern business world. If they are not relevant, then what is the point of
reading them, except for nostalgia? Also, the book needs to be applicable to real world
situations. If a book has good points, and sets forth a guideline by which managers
should manage, what good does it do if it is impossible, or unrealistic to implement.
Management books also need to have substance. Without substance, a book is full of
“Wishy Washy” ideas which will make the reader feel good, but will not help them very
much. The book should not be biased towards any one industry or one type of thinking,
but be able to help managers in any area of management. And finally, the book needs to
be effective, meaning that when a manager does what the book says, it needs to work.
Relevance: 8 We felt the book was highly relevant to modern management
because good managers and executives are highly effective. Modern managers are in just
as much of need for effectiveness as the managers when the book was written. The need
to be effective has not decreased, but has increased. For example, a good manager today
is one who is well organized, and able to clearly define what needs to get done. If he or
she is unable to be effective, other people within their organization will not be as
effective either. Based on past experiences, we note that all of our managers in the past
have been effective, or at least, attempted to get the right things done. In summary, being
effective is a quality that good managers of today possess.
Applications: 7 There were a good amount of real world examples in the book.
This helped show how being effective can be applied to real managers today. The topics
covered by the book were fairly general, but are not unrealistic.
Substance: 5 There is some solidity to the topics in this book however, it is not
entirely substantial. We feel that the topics can be applied to anything and are not really
very concrete. Part of this is because of the broad definition of executive that Drucker
lays out in the beginning.
Ease of Application: 9 The books topics can be applied to management with
great ease because the topics are very general. Drucker focuses on changing one‟s self
which is a lot easier than changing other people. There is also very little bias in the book
which means that the topics can be applied to basically any type of management and not
just one single industry.
Effectiveness: 8 Finally, the overall effectiveness is very high. We feel this way
because the book motivates managers and executives to strive to be more effective. It
also challenges them to get the right things done in order to more effectively affect their
organizations. Since the topics are fairly general, the reader can easily grasp the ideas
and apply them to what they want to do.