Robert (Bob) Waterman
American management expert (pictured right) who shot to worldwide fame as co-author of In Search of Excellence
In Search of Excellence
(1982), written with Thomas Peters (pictured right
(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 people management
Treat people as adults. Treat them as partners; treat them with dignity; treat them with respect.
The Renewal Factor
The best organizations continually renew themselves by:
1. Motivating and empowering their
employees - through:
- inspirational values and attitudes.
- employee involvement in decision making.
Changing to adapt to changes in customer needs, but there must also be “a constant interplay between
stability and change”.
Exploiting market opportunities through:
- learning, knowledge and creativity.
- “a voracious hunger for facts”.
Key quotes on change and business
No organization can strive for excellence, or even attempt to improve, without the ability to renew.
The only true source of renewal in a company is the individual.
The Frontiers of Excellence (1994) - What
America Does Right (in
The best companies satisfy their employees and customers better than their competitors do
1. Continuous innovation
(from self-managing small business units and teams).
3. Visionary, ethical and
Put people first and see profits pile up.
4. Low costs and long-term planning
5. Lifelong learning and challenging aims
- giving people something to believe
6. Motivating and empowering employees
Empowerment is particularly important and requires satisfying an employee’s needs via:
- rewards for performance and recognition.
- control over work ( “directed autonomy”).
- everyone (not just managers) becoming a leader.
Happy employees mean happy customers and higher profits.
Key quote on leadership
Today’s leaders understand that you have to give up control to get results
Key quote on human resource
Exciting results attract top people... and top people produce exciting results.
Key quote on
People... need to feel that their organization stands for something important.