Effectiveness is Doing the Right Things Well

The title quote – Effectiveness is Doing the Right Things Well – is a Peter Drucker statement taken from The Essential Drucker, a compilation of a series of his works. If you don’t know who Peter Drucker is and you’ve stumbled onto this blog, I hope you will go do some research. Here’s an article to start if you’re interested. He was a highly regarded and inquisitive business researcher and a prolific writer. In The Essential Drucker, he is asked what the most important concepts are from his 39 books spanning decades studying managers, strategy and business. And this is the quote he comes up with: “Effectiveness is Doing the Right Things Well.”

It sounds very Yoda like and over simplified. But in my own experience, those seven words encapsulate the nature and focus of the very best executives I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. It is incredibly simple in concept, but the real challenge is deciding what the right things are – and sticking with them – every day. That, in my opinion, is what separates the average from the good, and the good from the great. Being able to distill the right things – and there cannot be too many – and then drilling them, over and over, that is the secret of being effective. Being an effective manager of course requires making sure everyone knows what the right things are for their role or function. Making an organization succeed and produce more than the sum of its parts can happen no other way. Though I suppose you can indeed be efficient in many things and still not succeed – efficiency and effectiveness are very different. To succeed, you must be effective – and to do that, you MUST do those right things well. Therein is the art.

With the company’s of the size we typically get involved with, we often find the founder / owner often naturally seems to push certain of the right buttons, focuses on many of the right things – up to a point. And then the company in many cases stalls, or reaches a stasis. It’s a fine business, but it isn’t undergoing rapid growth or evolution any longer. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But without evolution, things often start the slow drift downward. And new set of things needs to become the right things to do well.