Last year, I wrote about the 50th anniversary edition of Peter Drucker’s classic The Effective Executive. While it is deservedly considered to be one of his greatest books, it does not always provide hands-on advice on what executives must do to become effective.

Many answers were later found in a book I mentioned in the post, The Effective Executive in Action: A Journal for Getting the Right Things Done. Written with his longtime friend and Drucker School teaching colleague Joseph A. Maciariello, the book appeared in early 2006, a couple of months after Drucker’s death at 95. Anyone looking to become more effective at work would profit from reading it, and especially making full use of its workbook component.

Despite being the person who devised the term ‘knowledge worker,’ in the late 1950s, Drucker emphasizes here that knowing is not enough, that your knowledge must be turned into effective actions. The authors guide readers to learn about and strengthen their ability to take effective, purposeful, and meaningful actions. They have built the chapters upon themes from the original book, such as learning how to be effective, time management, contribution to organizations, the productivity of strengths, priorities, and decision-making.

The format is simple and straightforward. In one- or two-page segments, themes from The Effective Executive are explored; e.g., Time: The Limiting Factor to Accomplishment, (page 12); Purpose of the Organization, (page 71), Character and Integrity, (page 106), and Rules for Priority Setting (page 159). Each starts with a brief aphorism, followed by quotes from the original book, new questions posed by the authors (followed by blank space), and finally action prompts, also followed by white space.

Drucker wanted readers to consider this to be a co-created book, meaning that each copy would be different and unique. “The book itself,” he writes in the Foreword, “should be the comments, actions, decisions, and results recorded by the individual executive using the book as his or her tool to achieve effectiveness.” There are sidebars throughout the book from a 2004 interview Drucker gave to Rich Karlgaard of, along with excerpts from books by two of Drucker’s most prominent followers, Good to Great author Jim Collins and former GE CEO Jack Welch, plus excerpts from some of Drucker’s articles in the Harvard Business Review.

Drucker and Maciariello present their material in a brisk and no-nonsense manner, making this a perfect guide to buckling down and fine-tuning your effectiveness at work. For instance, they have a gift for avoiding nonsense, and drilling down to first principles. Examples:

Questions from page 2: “What am I getting paid to do? What should I be paid to do if I am being paid for getting the right things done in my position?”

Actions from page 5: “List the steps you can take to remove the impediments that limit your ability to make contributions.”

Question from page 48: “Does my organization have a systematic process for identifying and developing new human talent to meet the needs of tomorrow?”

Actions from page 152: “Slough off an old activity before you start on a new one. Stimulate creativity by abandoning the old to create room for the new.”

When you reach the conclusion, Drucker and Maciariello pose two final questions: “Am I more effective now than when I started the book? Which practices should I go back to and practice some more?”