wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Thomas (Tom ) Peters (1942- )Tom Peters


A famous American management guru (pictured right) ever since his hugely influential and popular first book, In Search of Excellence (see below).


Key books

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)Tom Peters


Excellent companies have eight characteristics:


1. Hands-on value driven

Following customer-driven values and beliefs.


2. Close to the customer

An obsession with excellent service, quality and reliability.


3. A bias for action

A ‘can do’ mentality heavily dependent on informal contacts.


4. Autonomy and entrepreneurship

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 people

Maximizing people’s potential through:

  • inspirational leadership.
  • unity of purpose.
  • wise recruitment.
  • involvement in decision making.
  • information.
  • rewards for performance.
  • humanity (compassion mixed with toughness).
  • self-motivation.
  • fun at work.


6. Sticking to the knitting

Sticking “reasonably close” to the business(es) you know best.


7. Simple form, lean staff

Simple organization structure minimizing layers of management and staff at head office.


8. Simultaneous loose-tight properties 

A combination of:

  • central control over the things that matter (e.g. values, quality and customer service).
  • 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:

  • strategy.
  • structure.
  • style (of leadership).
  • staff.
  • skills.
  • systems (how things are done).
  • shared values (corporate culture).


Key quotes on customers

Customers reign supreme.


Key quotes on business success

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 companies).


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 below)


Tom Peters

Successful companies deliver superior customer service through:



1. Motivated and able employees 

(so respect and trust them).


2. Listening 

(to employees and customers).


3. Constant innovation 

(in teams).


4. Effective financial controls

But remember: “Financial control is vital but one does not sell financial control, one sells a quality service or product”


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 people”.
  • winning mutual trust and respect through integrity, vision and empathy (seeing other people's point of view)


The price of career success is less time with your family.



Key quote on business success

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 (1987)


Organizations must strive for continuous change and improvement and achieve:


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.


3. Empowerment

Individuals and teams taking responsibility for results through:

  • self-managing teams.
  • involvement in decision making.
  • responding to employees' suggestions and needs.
  • employment security.
  • rewards for results


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).
  • leading by example.


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 success 

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 customers

Long-term profit equals revenue from continuously happy customer relationships minus cost.


Key quote on human resource management

Involve everyone in everything.



Liberation Management (1992)


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 research

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.



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