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15 Dec

Stop Doing Well What You Shouldn't Be Doing At All

As a student and practitioner of organizational management, my bookshelf is lined with books by Peter Drucker, a pioneer in social and management theory and prolific writer.

One of my favorite Drucker quotes is: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Another great Drucker passage which I send to many of my clients before we embark on strategic planning is the following (emphasis added):

What is the managers job? It is to direct the resources and the efforts of the business toward opportunities for economically significant results. This sounds trite — and it is. But every analysis of actual allocation of resources and efforts in business that I have ever seen or made showed clearly that the bulk of time, work, attention, and money first goes to problems rather than to opportunities, and, secondly, to areas where even extraordinarily successful performance will have minimal impact on results.

What is the major problem? It is fundamentally the confusion between effectiveness and efficiency that stands between doing the right things and doing things right. There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all. Yet our tools especially our accounting concepts and detail focus on efficiency. What we need is (1) a way to identify the areas of effectiveness (of possible significant results), and (2) a method for concentrating on them.

Another words, stop trying to do better what you shouldn’t be doing at all.

In any organization and in our own lives, we all spend too much time and energy on things that are not helping us accomplish what we really want to achieve. Too often we ask what more should we be doing. But the question really  is, what should we stop doing.

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