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Pragmatic approach to effectiveness, 25. November 2009
A fundamental assumption of most productivity books is the existence of well-defined, known-duration tasks. In practice, however, this rarely applies. Especially the knowledge worker - to speak in Drucker's terms - cannot estimate whether he needs a week or a month to complete what he does.
Drucker presents an approach to effectiveness that works in the real world. He does not present a detailed productivity system (which, in my experience, is always too complex to work in practice anyway), but rather flexible, practice-oriented principles for being effective. Consider, for instance, this
"Most discussions of the executive's task start with the advice to plan one's work. [...] The only thing wrong with it is that it rarely works. The plans always remain on paper, always remain good intentions [...] Effective executives do not start with their tasks. They start with their time [...] by finding out where their time actually goes. Then [...] they consolidate their "discretionary" time into the largest possible continuing units."
In contrast to other authors, Drucker's book goes far beyond a simple to-do list management. He states principles of effectiveness like contribution, building on strengths, effective decisions, etc. that are - in practice - at least as important as to-do lists.