Thomas (Tom ) Peters (1942- )
A famous American management guru (pictured right) ever since his hugely influential and popular first book,
In Search of
Excellence (see below).
In Search of Excellence
(1982), written with Robert Waterman (pictured right below)
(see for more detail
In Search of Excellence in the Business Books section)
Excellent companies have eight characteristics:
1. Hands-on value
Following customer-driven values and beliefs.
2. Close to the
An obsession with excellent service, quality and reliability.
3. A bias for
A ‘can do’ mentality heavily dependent on informal contacts.
4. Autonomy and
The encouragement of innovation through:
- small autonomous teams and business units.
- informality and experimentation.
- product champions who fanatically support a new product.
5. Productivity through
Maximizing people’s potential through:
- inspirational leadership.
- involvement in decision making.
- humanity (compassion mixed with toughness).
6. Sticking to the
Sticking “reasonably close” to the business(es) you know best.
7. Simple form, lean
Simple organization structure minimizing layers of management and staff at head
8. Simultaneous loose-tight
A combination of:
- central control over the things that matter (e.g. values, quality and customer
- autonomy given to divisions, teams and individual employees.
Peters and Waterman wrote the book as employees of the American management consultants, McKinsey, and used its
7-S Framework to analyse an organization’s success:
- systems (how things are done).
- shared values (corporate culture).
Key quotes on
Customers reign supreme.
Key quotes on business
The excellent companies were, above all, brilliant at the basics.
They give people pride in what they do. They make it possible to love the product (talking about excellent
Key quotes on human resource management
Treat people as adults. Treat them as partners; treat them with dignity; treat them with respect.
A Passion for Excellence
(1985), written with
Nancy Austin (pictured right
Successful companies deliver superior customer service through:
1. Motivated and able employees
(so respect and trust them).
(to employees and customers).
3. Constant innovation
4. Effective financial controls
But remember: “Financial control is vital but one does not sell financial control, one sells a quality service
5. Leaders and managers:
- coaching and being visible at all levels of the organization (management by wandering around),
- being “tough on values” (like excellence) and “tender in support of
- winning mutual trust and respect through integrity, vision and empathy (seeing other people's point of
The price of career success is less time with your family.
Key quote on business
Excellence is achieved by people who muster up the nerve (and the passion)...to maintain face-to-face contact
with other people, namely customers and colleagues.
Thriving On Chaos
Organizations must strive for continuous change and improvement and
1. Total customer responsiveness- through
- world class quality and production.
- differentiation (being unique).
- quick and flexible response to customer requirements.
2. Continuous innovation
Constant learning and innovation projects in small, autonomous and multi-functional teams.
Individuals and teams taking responsibility for results through:
- involvement in decision making.
- responding to employees' suggestions and needs.
4. Effective leadership
- defining a vision (based upon customer service through empowerment and change).
- inspiring people to carry out the vision.
- creating a sense of urgency.
- mastering paradox (e.g. spending on quality reduces costs).
5. Change-oriented systems
Simplifying all the organization’s activities and its structure (with a minimum of five layers
of management), so that they respond quickly to changing customer requirements.
Key quotes on change and business
No company is safe... Too much is changing for anyone to be complacent.
Excellent firms of tomorrow will cherish impermanence – and thrive on chaos (explaining the need for constant
change and improvement).
Loving change, tumult, even chaos is a prerequisite for survival, let alone success.
Key quote on
Long-term profit equals revenue from continuously happy customer relationships minus cost.
Key quote on human resource
Involve everyone in everything.
Organizations should be in a perpetual state of revolutionary change, continually:
- innovating and challenging the status quo.
- selling radically new products.
Key quote on customers and market
I would counsel not listening to customers at times...to create startling products and services which respond to
needs customers hadn’t dreamed they had.