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"No matter where you are in your career, this book is a must read. The younger your thinking the more you'll get out of it." —The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"A manual for businesses that want to survive and thrive in a world continually undergoing change." —St. Petersburg Times
"Tom Peters has done it again."—J.W. Marriot, Jr., CEO, Marriot International, Inc.
"[Peters] yields potent insights...his keen attention to the human element in organizational growth and change shines through...No cutting-edge manager can afford to ignore it."—Publishers Weekly
Tom Peters: I just spent a lovely weekend in Manhattan, highlighted by the musical "1776," and now I am in Orlando getting ready for a speech to Lawson Software on Monday morning.
Tom Peters: Difference number one: We are having this conversation at barnesandnoble.com. To put it mildly, that would not have happened in 1982. Number two: In 1982 I believed in "excellence for the ages." Today I believe that even the best of us are scrambling and scrapping to keep a toehold on the hill called survival. In terms of sameness, the first principle of IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE was "A Bias for Action." That holds more truth today than yesterday by far.
Tom Peters: Tragically, my hair is the same color as it was several months ago. But to your point, we decided that this book should reflect the vibrant times of which it is a part. Therefore the design is indeed intended to be as energetic as the message. Lots of "straight" reviewers have had the devil's own time with the design. To which I say, "Great!"
Tom Peters: That there is no difference between you and the general manager of an NBA franchise. That is, you are as good as the quirky talent that works for you. Alas, not many supervisors see themselves as equivalent to a professional sports franchise general manager.
Tom Peters: I am published by Random House, now son of Bertelsmann. I am not a happy camper. On the other hand, the true answer to your question is that the likes of Barnes & Noble are not publishing a higher share of the giant publishers than in the past. To the contrary, there have, in fact, never been greater opportunities for small focused, specialized, excellent publishers and, therefore, writers. As to managers at Random House, for better or for worse, you must understand that making money on what you publish is not unmitigated evil.
Tom Peters: In the book THE CIRCLE OF INNOVATION, I have a chapter called "The System Is the Solution." I talk about what I call beautiful systems -- that is, systems that are more than "buttoned-down." For example: Federal Express, Southwest Airlines, and USAA, the insurance company. So "great process improvement" to me means processes that are "beautiful"/"graceful". These are not the terms we normally associate with systems. Our loss.
Tom Peters: "Innovation" means doing neater stuff than the other guy. You know it when you see it as well as I do. In the local restaurant. Or at the computer company. The circle of innovation is about 15 ideas that can be taken independently or linked up to produce an innovative culture.
Tom Peters: Answer: It's 1998, stupid and I don't mean you. In the software world, I remember an old pal at IBM. He said that business had been great before the computer-science degree arrived. Prior to that degree, he had hired fabulous historians, anthropologists, scientists, etc. Now he was hiring from MIT, Stanford, Berkeley. And they had all been trained by the same people. My point: If you want "neat stuff" you've got to look at offbeat sources of talent. It's as simple as that and as inescapable as that.
Tom Peters: I think my answer is: They don't trust you. I don't mean that personally, obviously. What I do mean is that "they" are, rightfully, skeptical. You declare yourself to be all in favor of empowerment. They think, "Oh no. He's been to a Tom Peters seminar." I think that people can be brought along to support significant change. But they must believe that you are on their side and that all of you are in this together. That is the magic of Franklin Roosevelt, bringing Americans reluctantly into World War II, and the magic of you bringing your seven or 77 people into line to support, vigorously, change.
Tom Peters: I think we all have a lot of "Joe Key" in us. The good news is that the human spirit is hard to snuff out. The issue is: Do you have the nerve to stick your neck out, at least a few millimeters tomorrow Monday! morning.
Tom Peters: I worked for seven years at McKinsey & Co. I worked on a series of projects. Each one lasted three to six months. Each one had "deliverables." That is, stuff that we had promised to our client. A project, to me, is something that has an end and some stuff that you promise to get done, come hell and high water. A job, as we have routinely defined it for the last several decades, is simply about processing the stuff that arrives at your "In" basket in the course of a day. Whether that stuff adds up to anything of demonstrable value or not is a matter of chance.
Tom Peters: A crazy is someone who looks a little bit different, who dresses a little bit different, who talks a little bit different and is not ashamed of it. An earlier participant used the image of Dennis Rodman. In my seminars I ask, "Do you have a Dennis Rodman in your accounting department?" There is a lot about Dennis that is unattractive. But he was a "freak" who took the amazing Chicago Bulls to unparalleled heights. Looking and assimilating such offbeat talent is not easy but is clearly a requisite to producing offbeat products and services. Selling Dennis Rodmans to conservative managements is not easy, I would be the first to admit. On the other hand: What's the alternative? We have seen almost all the "great" companies eclipsed by upstarts such as Wal-Mart and Dell Computer. As I say in my book, the message is: Innovate or die.
Tom Peters: The answer is: The idea is as old as the hills. And amazingly, few get it! When you see a Fed-Ex or a Nordstrom perform, what you are mostly made aware of is the lack of service that you receive on the average day from the average company. I admit, I am befuddled by all of this. We should realize the billions of dollars of value that Disney, for example, creates thanks to matchless service. But very few do. If you can figure out the puzzle, let me know. I've been trying for 20 years at least, and I can't figure out why they don't get it.
Tom Peters: I think it's unfair to give me and my IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE coauthor Bob Waterman that credit. A year before IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE, my friend Alan Kennedy and Terry Deal wrote a book called CORPORATE CULTURE. What all of us were trying to say was that there is a huge difference between the formal organization chart and the informal way that things really get done in organizations. I recently came across a wonderful quote from a senior executive at Sun Microsystems. He said that there is no organization chart at Sun. The real organization is the email traffic. The idea that there is a "soft" way of doing business -- call it corporate culture -- is an important idea that all too many still ignore.
Tom Peters: I have been criticized by many -- to my surprise -- for having an AOL email address. Fact is: I am not ashamed. Fortune magazine just ran a cover story on America Online's CEO, Steve Case. One thing the writer said really struck home to me: "Steve Case designed a site for 'the rest of us.'" Years ago, CBS topped NBC. NBC's boss, General Sarnoff, was the best technologist. But CBS boss Bill Paley had a much better feel for the "common man." Likewise, Steve Case and his now 10,000 pals at AOL are not as sophisticated as some others, but they have given us genuine, no-baloney user friendliness. Therefore it is the AOL standard that I apply to any web site.
Tom Peters: Yes! Go back to basics. The war is never won. If you are meeting resistance to change, then the obvious question is why. Obviously I cannot answer that. Only you can answer it. Which means go back to first principle. Go "down" to the front line. Talk to the people there. Ask them -- openly -- about their skepticism. Make it clear that their skepticism is an unimpeachable barrier to your success. Beg them to talk straight to you. This is a game which is never won. We have to continually work to keep open lines of communication in any organization of any size.
Tom Peters: Bless you!
Tom Peters: I have no relationship with him at all. I have always worked -- as perverse as it may seem -- to make sure that I have no personal or remunerative relationship with any of the people I tout in my books. I am simply impressed that after many false starts, Sears has apparently crafted a major turnaround -- based on their embrace of the women who buy every darn thing that is sold in their stores, including wrenches and tires.
Tom Peters: I have been asked, often, as you might suspect, what my secret to success is. My answer: my 89-year-old mom. She made me a reader at age four. And I haven't slowed down at all, 51 years later. I am going to use your question as an opportunity to offer some general advice: As I left New York this morning to fly to Orlando, I stopped in a magazine shop. I bought -- literally -- 11 magazine, three or four of which I had never read before. I am a junk reader. That is, I use a three-hour trip to Orlando as an opportunity to read lots of stuff about lots of stuff about which I know damn little. That is an awful lot of my secret of success. My suggestion to you, online not withstanding, is to go into a Barnes & Noble bookstore and they haven't put me up to this, wander through three or four sections with which you are not familiar. Pick out three or four titles just because they turn you on. And start reading.
Tom Peters: Because the evidence says so. And after all, I'm a guy. More thoughtfully: I think that women, by and large, are more thoughtful. They listen better. There are great men as managers. No doubt of it. But on average, women are more empathetic. Empathy -- thoughtfulness, listening, paying attention -- is, face it, an attribute that is better developed in women than in men.
Tom Peters: My next book will arrive whenever it is ready to arrive. My publisher keeps asking me the same question. It may be the age of speed-is-life, but my view is that books arrive only when the author has something to say, not when the publisher wants the author to have something to say.
Tom Peters: There are a lot of companies that are decentralized -- on paper. But they hire the same kinds of people for every job, in every department. I am not politically correct. But if you are serving a market that is primarily women, Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans, well, then, the marketing department and the research department and the accounting department ought to reflect the rainbow you are trying to serve. That is, most decentralized companies are not, in fact, decentralized at all. It is a big -- and bad -- joke.
Tom Peters: I am working with a number of companies that are trying to use the Web in imaginative fashions. The answer is clear to me: Look at America Online even if it makes your techie gene barf. The magic of online is one word and one word only: "community." Online works when lots of "friends" become supportive of one another look no farther than the Motley Fool to understand this. I think the potential of the Web is, literally, infinite. And the magic is to understand that the Web is a genuinely newfangled way of allowing encouraging! community members to visit with community members.
Tom Peters: No. Corporate culture has to be reinvented. The old definition of corporate culture was a bunch of guys literally! who talked football scores on Monday mornings. The new culture is a bunch of people who share aspirations with one another but who may live in different states, if not different continents. Culture takes on an entirely new meaning. And -- though I am not a Pollyanna -- I believe that that the new meaning of culture can in fact be much richer than the old read: old boy definition of culture, which dominated most corporations.
Tom Peters: Chris, you are probably a great guy. Therefore, and I say this with complete respect, look for a non-Chris. That is, think about what a wild and woolly and wonderful team of four people, doing neat stuff, might be at its best. Settle for not less than some genuinely interesting people who will constitute a group of nifty folks, who will produce, in turn, a great "high" for you over the course of the next 24 months.
Tom Peters: There are no simple answers. If you outsource -- and I do in one of my companies -- then you have to invest a phenomenal amount of time in becoming comfortable with outsourcers, as partners and family members. Outsourcing to "the lowest bidder" is usually just plain stupid. I am a fan of outsourcing, as long as you take the relationship part of outsourcing deadly seriously. Key words: deadly seriously.
Tom Peters: I am a believer in the Internet. The hype is out of control. The reality is even more out of control. I am an unabashed fan of wandering though bookstores. Physically. Screw virtual. Whoops: Truth is, I spend a lot of time -- to my own amazement -- buying online from the likes of barnesandnoble.com and Amazon. I am here tonight courtesy of barnesandnoble.com. But I am not touting anyone or touting online. The fact is, no baloney: We are almost all heading online very, very fast. The issue is not who is best in 1998. The issue is, Are we ready to deal with the new online world which is being born around us, literally at the speed of light?
Tom Peters: This is fun. It is -- as I said in my answer to the last question -- a whole new world which is being born. The hell with the skeptics. Despite my advanced age of 55, I am thrilled out of my wits to be a part of it. This is really cool.
Posted June 27, 2010
No text was provided for this review.