Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, In Search of Excellence
Peters is an American management guru (pictured right) famous ever since this hugely influential and popular
Waterman (pictured right below) also became a successful management consultant and writer.
They were working for McKinsey, the American management consultants, when they wrote the book.
Tom Peters and Robert Waterman in the Management Gurus section.
Why is this book so famous?
Its huge popularity changed the business book market overnight.
Millions worldwide were inspired by how business excellence was achieved by American companies
Characteristics of excellent
1. Hands-on value driven
- intense fanaticism about a few customer driven values (corporate culture)
- a clear one page statement of the company’s purpose (identifying customers,
employees, suppliers, shareholders and social responsibilities)
- “chunking” (breaking things up into manageable units like small teams).
2. Close to the customer
- being customer driven and not just talking about it.
- love of the company’s customers and products.
- an obsession with excellent service, quality and reliability.
- defining yourself as a service business (even if you’re in manufacturing).
- listening to and learning from customers (vital for suggestions
about new products and improvements).
3. A bias for action
- a “do it, fix it, try it” mentality.
- management based on informal contacts and getting managers out of the office
(MBWA, management by wandering around).
4. Autonomy and entrepreneurship
Encouraging innovation through:
- small business units and autonomous teams of 8-10 people (“skunk works”).
- informality and experimentation.
- product champions (who fanatically support a new product).
- learning from mistakes and “tolerating failure”.
5. Productivity through people
Maximizing employee potential and performance through:
a) respectfully treating people as adults
and equal partners
b) rewarding results and sharing information
c) small teams and business units
(so that people can more easily identify with them).
d) celebrating success and having fun
(“hoopla, celebration and verve”)
Compassion mixed with:
- tough performance standards.
- continuous performance appraisal and feedback.
f) wise recruitment
(picking the right people with the right attitudes).
g) inspirational leadership
Leaders inspiring employees to become:
6. Sticking to the knitting
- sticking “reasonably close” to the business(es) you know best.
- never buy a business you don’t know how to run.
7. Simple form, lean staff
- simple organization structure, minimizing head office staff and layers of management (the
Roman Catholic Church has only five).
- minimizing bureaucracy and paperwork.
8. Simultaneous loose-tight properties
A mixture of centralization and decentralization:
- central control over the things that matter (e.g. values, quality and customer
service) for consistency, and...
- autonomy given to divisions, teams and individual employees.
The 7-S Framework
Peters and Waterman wrote the book as employees of the American management consultants, McKinsey, and used its
7-S Framework (pictured right) to analyse an organization’s success:
- systems (how things are done).
- shared values (corporate culture).
Key quote on customers
Customers reign supreme.
Key quote on the learning organization
The excellent companies are learning organizations
Key quotes on business
Far too many managers have lost sight of the basics...quick action, service to customers, practical innovation
and the fact that you can’t get any of these without virtually everyone’s commitment.
KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid!
Key quote on human resource management
Treat people as adults. Treat them as partners; treat them with dignity; treat them with respect.
The excellent companies require and demand extraordinary performance from the average man.
Key quote on corporate culture
The excellent companies live their commitment to
Key quote on products
They give people pride in what they do. They make it possible to love the product (talking about excellent