Been reading a lot of bedrock stuff, such as Jim O'Toole's brilliant Creating the Good Life: Applying Aristotle's Wisdom to Find Meaning and Happiness, which challenges the reader to pursue a disciplined, virtuous life of continuous growth—until one's last breath. My mind kept wandering back to 1982 and the publication of In Search of Excellence. As solid as I hope (and think) our research and analytic framework were, I am also convinced that no small part of our success was derivative of the word "excellence" per se. Alas, it wasn't and isn't a word used often in business or organizational life in general. And yet I believe it is a universal aspiration. It is in fact a beautiful word with beautiful implications.
And "all that" took me back to the contents of the book. We begin with a robust theoretical exploration of individual, organizational and business excellence. But the heart of the book, in most readers' eyes, was our chapters on the "eight basics" of enterprise excellence. You'll find them displayed below:
Excellence1982: The Bedrock "Eight Basics"
I have promised myself—and it is one promise I vow never to break—that there will never but never be an In Search of Excellence, Revised. Moreover, as I look at the list above I think it's held up pretty damn well. (As did the financial performance of the companies selected.) On the other hand, a lot has changed, and several of the "new practices," circa 1982, have become "conventional wisdom," circa 2005 (e.g., listening to customers). That conclusion and my general restlessness led me to casually start scribbling some "stuff" down. What might my "basics" of "excellence" be today? I winnowed a list of about 100 candidates to a baker's dozen. The "final" list is indeed longer than, and not so succinct as, 1982's—doubtless drawbacks. Yet it is my best effort to display what I think is most essential to surviving/thriving with excellence, circa crazy 2005. It follows:
Excellence2005: The Bedrock Baker's Dozen
All yours—and you'll also find a three-slide version posted as a new Special Presentation.
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.
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