Those Sand Flies
Tom reads some poems about rain and sand flies. (Apparently an abundance of both at this time.)Tom Peters posted this on 01/30/2007.
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"I think 'beauty' has a (prominent) place in every project." Tom Peters
Tom reads some poems about rain and sand flies. (Apparently an abundance of both at this time.)Tom Peters posted this on 01/30/2007.
Tom talks about the paradox of leadership. (And he talks about sand flies, too.)Tom Peters posted this on 01/30/2007.
Mary Brown and Carol Orsborn are the coauthors of BOOM: Marketing to the Ultimate Power Consumer—the Baby Boomer Woman. At tompeters.com, we are glad to add Mary Brown to our list of Cool Friends. She spoke with us about the book, and about her work with J. Walter Thompson's BOOM: The 40+ Authority and Imago Creative, a marketing firm that she founded, the only one in the U.S. specializing in marketing to Boomer women. You can read her Cool Friends interview here.
Though she did not take part in the interview, we'd like to also introduce Carol Orsborn. She is known for her work addressing the concerns of the Baby Boom generation, and she is Senior Vice President and co-chair of Fleishman-Hillard's FH Boom. Carol also operates an online life mastery resource center for women: www.TheSilverPearl.com.Cathy Mosca posted this on 01/30/2007.
I was fascinated to hear a recent BBC Radio 4 programme whose subject was social enterprise—a concept about which I did not know much! In essence, these are organisations that set out to make a profit, but then direct that profit at "good causes." Among them are a number of fairly high profile organisations in the U.K. (e.g., The Co-operative Group and Cafédirect).
The story that really caught my attention was about Greenwich Leisure Limited, an organisation that 14 years ago took over 7 struggling leisure centres that had previously been run by the London Borough of Greenwich local authority. They converted the organisation into a worker-led trust and have transformed it into an innovative, high performing organisation, that makes more profit, now costs the council only 20% of what it did 14 years ago, and has become a business model that has been copied by at least 110 Leisure businesses in the UK.
Mark Sesnan, the leader who took the brave step of leaving the relative security of a public sector job to embark on this challenge, speaks enthusiastically about the change in attitudes that he was able to stimulate in his workforce. By treating his people as partners, adults, and fellow contributors he has found that it has converted 80–90% of them into "happy, co-operative people." One indicator of their commitment is that sickness levels in the trust are consistently less than 2% per year, which is exemplary by any standards in the UK!
The various programme contributors contend that social enterprise will be the business model for the 21st century. As one of them says, it's the Robin Hood approach to business! Some might say this is "pollyanna" thinking, but I'm not so sure. I think (almost) all of us are looking for meaning in our work that goes beyond what we pick up in our paypackets at the end of the month. What can we all learn from businesses with a real conscience?Madeleine McGrath posted this on 01/30/2007.
Everything we are discussing here is true!! I admit it, I know it.
I am on board with "the new world of work," with vision, with engaging talent, with the need to obliterate past ways of working, with a customer experience beyond compare. I think everyone contributing to this blog site is, too. So ... why isn't it a done deal yet??? Not the believing it to be true—but the DOING it??
Here are some reflections from my perspective (ex-corporate, team worker, mum, wife, woman in the workplace, forty-something ...)
What we are trying to do in our world of work is to change human habit. How hard is that?? (An ideal thing to reflect on at the end of January, the month of resolutions, et al. Have you kept yours? If so, why, how? If not, why not?)
As I reflect on this, and I apply it to the work aspects of my life, all becomes clear. The way we work, the way business is run, all is based in habits from a bygone (Industrial/Command and Control) era. Globalisation, Technology, etc., removed the need for all those operating systems. Yet as humans in the workplace, we haven't managed to break our long-learned habits yet. And the pace of business means we are always more likely to respond as we always have, rather than in a new and (to us) unfamiliar way.
Old habits die hard: I once moved my waste bin from one place in my office to another, yet it took me a full month to stop habitually walking to the old position with my rubbish ... and how simple is that? Our workplaces are far more complex. We can't often allow ourselves 30 days of getting it wrong in action—though the brain has the desire—before our action finally matches the intent!
So in addition to "getting" the new world of work with its terminology, technology, and new fundamental operating system, we must "get" the core drivers of human behaviour—our own first, and then, those of everyone around us.
Do the leaders in your organisation "get" human behaviour?Helen Green posted this on 01/29/2007.
Tom talks from New Zealand. (The phone connection is a little scratchy.) About the pros and cons of metrics, and design on Air New Zealand.Tom Peters posted this on 01/28/2007.
"It is Command & Control, Jim—but not as we know it!"
Earlier this month I had a bit of a rant about "Servant Leadership" (follow this link if you're interested). The gist of it was: Military Officers and Business Leaders have the same role ... to ensure that all members of the value-creating community are the best they can be. That's an enabling service worth paying for. Today, as a leader, you serve those who choose to bring their talent to you/your organisation. They decide if you are doing a good job or not. They decide if you are worth your management package. They choose to stay or go. They determine if you/the company will succeed or not. Control ... forget it!
Some of my clients/colleagues over here think I've gone soft. Quite the contrary, actually. I think servant leadership is much harder than command & control/micromanagement/authoritarianism. Why bother taking the harder route? Here's the disquieting logic—if you think I'm wrong, please tell me:
Traditional Command & Control logic is based on the world as it used to be, rational, predictable, and stable. A world where well-defined processes produced predictably good results, and refining processes produced better results. It was a world where there was little scope for discretionary human value added to the execution of process. As a consequence, engaging people was unnecessary in a management culture conceived in the blast furnaces and assembly lines of the 19th Century. Unfortunately, relative to the social and technological changes in the last century, little has changed in management culture.
Future winners are turning the old logic on its head by making the value creators the heroes. (Think sports teams!) The future losers are those companies where doing well is about getting out of a customer value creation role and into management (Think Fortune/FTSE500). How many talented value creators will stay in a company where management fat cats out-earn people like themselves by ratios of 4/5/6/7:1? No—they'll leave and go somewhere more rewarding to work their magic and make their money.
I'd propose that our role as managers is to ensure that each member of our value creating (read org successes ensuring) community is contributing to the maximum of their potential. If we are doing anything other than that, we should STOP IT NOW or fire ourselves for dereliction of duty. We are no longer process policemen but talent coaches. It's 100% a trust thing. We're in BIG trouble.
As the personal implications of this scare me half to death, I'd love to be convinced by you that I'm wrong on this. Please try (hard)!Chris Nel posted this on 01/26/2007.
The headline reads "Ford Posts Worst Loss in Its History," due to slumping sales and large restructuring costs. Alan Mulally, the new CEO, has a plan to slash white collar jobs by 14,000, redesign and introduce new products, and continue to re-structure the business.
We have heard these words before in many companies. Ford and other companies often create great strategies on paper, but somewhere between the paper and the factory floor, something gets lost. People on the floor know that jobs are cut, talent is lost, sales are down, and they have to work harder and smarter.
Larry Bossidy, coauthor of Execution, believes that focus on execution is a leader's most important job. Getting a strategy executed requires more than a detailed plan, it requires getting everyone in the organization from the front lines to the C-Level engaged, passionate, and excited about the plan. Great execution happens in small manageable chunks by taking large plans and breaking them into manageable parts. Otherwise, the path to execution can seem so overwhelming, people can't conjure up the energy. Ford has a massive plan, and only if they can execute this plan will they pull through this crisis. (Assuming it is the right strategy.)
It's the beginning of the year, and a lot of organizations have "announced the grand plan," that will fall short unless leaders energize the talent, set rewards and recognition in place to support it and have visible tracking of results.
I am curious to know what has made execution of strategies or changes work in your organization and not work?Val Willis posted this on 01/25/2007.
Recently we seem to have found ourselves caught up in heated debates with clients around the meaning and purpose of traditional business language—in particular, terms such as Vision, Mission, Ambition, Purpose, and Strategy, which appear to confuse people where clarity is required. A kind of paralysis results, and people are reluctant to do anything until the senior team have crafted the appropriate statements on what the organisation should do to achieve the prescribed "vision" or "mission"—or whatever word you would use.
All this reminds me of a quote from Dee Hock:
Given the right circumstances, from no more than dreams, determination and the liberty to try, people consistently do extraordinary things.—Dee Hock, 1999, Birth of the Chaordic Age
People will energise themselves around a cause that matters to them. So, how do organisations go about achieving a shared sense of purpose; how much direction do talented people need from the top in order to give their best; and what is the role of the CEO and the Executive Team in making "the dream" meaningful to all?
Sharing the carefully crafted "company vision" at the annual conference is a start and will be enough for some—those that have worked it all out for themselves anyway! To help people truly engage, then isn't dialogue more important than getting the words right the first time? Leaders who make things happen have a knack of keeping things simple. They talk to people about the future, listen to their responses, and engage in thousands of conversations in which people create their own meaning.David Pilbeam posted this on 01/25/2007.
Rather than wait until the Chinese New Year to start my new year's resolutions (normally I'll use any excuse to put this off), I'll make one pledge right now: to promote companies that truly "get it" about customer experience! I'm referring, of course, not to what a company does with a customer (a transaction) but what the customer is feeling and thinking as a result of that transaction (an experience). This is where a brand has to walk the talk. As Steve Yastrow says, "Your brand is not what you say you are, but what your customer thinks you are." As James Carville might have said, "It's the EXPERIENCE, stupid!"
When I can go on Amazon.com and order a book, CD, or DVD (usually for under 10 bucks, used, including shipping) in the time it takes to boil water for tea (about 50 seconds), I'm left thinking, "SOMEBODY gets it about convenience!" Then I'm energized to do battle with the next 20 items on my To-Do list. When I call Commerce Bank and an exuberant call rep answers, predictably, within 1 second (no kidding!), my reaction is "How come everybody can't provide this?" My faith in commerce (small c) is restored. Of course it requires TALENT in high measure to pull this off (including usability experts, I presume, in the case of Amazon.com, and highly motivated call center agents in the case of Commerce Bank).
So what companies would you like to promote, which consistently provide you a great customer experience?John O'Leary posted this on 01/24/2007.
What comes to mind when you hear the word "talent"? A favourite musician or top fashion designer? Maybe the British football (soccer) icon David Beckham as he sets a new U.S. sports earnings record with his transfer to the L.A. Galaxy in what will be the swan song of his playing career?
Back in 1997, Tom boldly pronounced in The Circle of Innovation that "Everyone is a Michelangelo." But how many people who run businesses today really believe that, or more importantly, where can we see this thinking profitably in action?
In my experience, Frederick Taylor's Principles of Scientific Management still dominate most organisations. The senior managers I meet can all make great speeches on the need for innovation, but observably spend most of their time managing compliance. A recent conversation with a supermarket executive was illuminating. He was talking with a group of senior managers about how to get staff in their stores to be more willing to try out their new ideas. "They should try doing what they are told for a change," he quipped, "That would be something new round here!" Forced laughs all round.
In our high wage economies, exploiting the talent of our people is critical, and yet a small elite, maybe the output of our best universities or business schools, get the privilege of being treated as if they have "talent" when they join us. How many companies would have spotted the talent of an Eric Clapton, a Stella McCartney, or a David Beckham if they were lucky enough to have recruited them? How would their multi-million-dollar talents have blossomed in this so-called "Era of Talent"?Richard King posted this on 01/23/2007.
There seem to be two blogging camps—bloggers who allow comments at their sites and bloggers who don't. Tom has always welcomed the opportunity to participate in conversation with his readers. For some bloggers, the drawbacks to maintaining the conversation outweigh the benefits, and they decide against using that feature. Jason Kottke is one of them. His audience, however, decided that what they had to say was too important to keep to themselves. Biz Stone, author of Who Let the Blogs Out (a great beginner's guide to blogging), pointed out the Kottke readers' site: Kottke Komments. They republish Kottke's posts and enable comments. This is a fascinating development in that we've been hearing so much about people creating websites to discuss their favorite products or brands, and now it seems a bit like the camera is being aimed at the photographer. How will this affect Kottke's blog? Will readership decline? What if a decline in readership of the original blog impacts ad revenue? If this new site is successful, would it inspire Kottke to try to take control of the situation by opening comments at his blog? Here at tompeters.com, we're familiar with the challenges of maintaining a comment feature, and so respect a blogger's choice on the matter. That said, what do you think?Shelley Dolley posted this on 01/23/2007.
An Impossible Dream?
Just how do companies manage to get the economies of scale needed to be competitive today, and yet provide memorable customer experiences in their day-to-day interactions? The ideal scenario is that the systems take complexity out of the way of employees, leaving them free to deliver personal service. And yet the reality is often far from that. It seems to fall to the customer to find their way through systems, often having to work out for themselves how to get the service that they need. ... I well remember the frustration of one former client, who, on introducing a highly efficient CRM telephone system found that although performance efficiency improved, customer satisfaction plummeted. Although customers previously had to wait to get service, when they eventually did get through, they felt well treated. The new system made them feel "processed"!!
Interestingly, I read a report in Saturday's UK Guardian newspaper [01.20.07] that describes what one UK Insurer (More Than) is doing to respond to customers' frustrations around impersonal call centre handling. Their solution is to provide every customer with their own personal customer manager. This manager will be personally accountable for their own customer accounts. It's good to see that they are at least attempting to find a way through this minefield
Is this likely to improve things for the customer, or is the problem they are trying to solve much more deeply rooted? The future shape of organisations is being created by those companies who really are getting to grips with challenges like these. Where are the companies out there who are consistently delivering great experiences, and how are they managing to do it?Madeleine McGrath posted this on 01/22/2007.
I can already feel the withdrawal symptoms making their way toward my consciousness. In two hours I pack off my computers ... speak to the Inc. 500 25th anniversary gathering here in San Francisco at the Fairmont ... and then head to New Zealand. And 3 weeks later (12 February) I surface again.
No %^$)@ computer!
I've been wondering when I was last computer-free for this long. Surely in an earlier millennium. As I mentioned before, Susan will conduct an inspection that will put the TSA to shame. Only my camera—and her iPod—is/are allowed under the category labeled "electronics." Even the ratio of non-fiction to fiction books will be assessed. No sport coat. No ties. ("But what if we go to dinner in a nice place?" "Tough.") I am considering an audio Blogpost or two—assuming I don't get caught—maybe while Sergeant Sargent (as in Susan Sargent, spouse) is in the shower.
Well, I will truly miss our communal gathering—hold the fort until I return. And a heartfelt thanks for making this a useful and exciting community!
(I had planned some pithy observation about business & management & life as we know it as sendoff Post. In the end ... I had too damn much packing to do.)
(The photo is of the fabled San Francisco Ferry Building, once home base for the Port of San Francisco—it's at the foot of Market Street.)Tom Peters posted this on 01/22/2007.
Thanks to Kevin at ipopmyphoto.com for the image.
Tom talks about "a gorgeous exhibition of Excellence" in the loading area at Ralphs supermarket in L.A.Tom Peters posted this on 01/22/2007.
Tom's in San Francisco, which he calls the World's #1 city. The event is the 25th Annual Inc. 500 Conference. If you would like to download the slides, you can get them here:
XAlways, Inc., Final Version, San Francisco
XAlways, Inc., Long Version, San Francisco
In California, the story goes, anything over 50 years of age merits the title "antiquity"—I suppose that includes me! On the East Coast the # is more like 100 to 150 years. (Of course, that blithely ignores the fabulous Spanish settlements in what became California—that pre-date by 100 years the Pilgrims not landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620.)
But that's not my point.
My point is ... Athens. It is, yes, bizarre and wonderful—in a nondescript square, one casually comes upon a little sign tacked to a wall: "Façade of Hadrian's Reservoir."
Now that's antiquity!
(Sorry—no photo. I forgot my camera on that walk, but I did take a note.)Tom Peters posted this on 01/16/2007.
I was sitting in an Emirates lounge in Dubai, and my eye caught and lingered on my more or less 7-year old rolly bag by Eagle Creek. Not a ding or a tear, still sleek, after probably a little more than 1.5 million brutal miles—I'm not kind to luggage. Go Eagle Creek—couldn't live without 'em! (And, no, I'm not trolling for freebies from Eagle Creek; I will not accept such goodies—which are occasionally proffered.)
While on the topic of traveling stuff I like, I'll plug a Richter 6.1 shift in my all-important preferences for international air travel. I'm logging about 150,000 air miles per year for international trips alone. (Current air voyage: Boston-Athens-Saudi Arabia-San Francisco-Boston.) And for 15 or 20 or even 30 years I've preferred, when possible, outside North America, British Air—and actually have enjoyed traversing Heathrow at 5 a.m. or some such.
But that's changed in the last 6 months. I'm now squarely a Lufthansa and Frankfurt guy. Heathrow is a disaster, a mess, over-crowded, slowed to a turtle's pace due to security issues, etc., etc. By contrast—even during major construction—Frankfurt is clean (hey, these are Germans—offspring of my ancestors), easy as pie to navigate, orderly at the gate, relatively painless on the security dimension (adequately staffed—or just better), managed well enough so that you don't feel as if you're spending endless hours in a Tokyo subway station at peak commute time—and the airport staff attitude & responsiveness is unerringly helpful. As to the flight itself, from my perspective, LH tops BA in everything from on-time departures, crowd control, and cleanliness (the "German thing" again) to, perhaps surprising (again) ... food and attitude! The BA folks are not typically "having a bad day"—they're just not having a good day!
I'm still okay with BA. No, I'm actually not. "Please, please," I beg my travel guru, Nancy Paul, "by hook or by crook or come hell or high water, get me on Lufthansa—and if a 2-legger is necessary, send me via Frankfurt!
No more than one (surprised) guy's opinion.
(Photo above is Dubai airport—at 3 a.m.)Tom Peters posted this on 01/16/2007.
As to my "nothing new under the sun" in the "leadership thing," I want to add (then, mostly, delete) one thing. Thanks to the new technologies, in particular, tomorrow's leaders and "followers"* must be comfortable dealing with the whole, wide, weird, opinionated, fickle world at the speed of light. (*Actually, there will be damn few workforce survivors with a "follower's mentality"—hence my decade-long Brand You obsession.) It's about not "greater international awareness," or some such—though that is part of it. It's instead "the Way of the Web," Wikinomics, Crowdsourcing, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, and the like—that is, the whole damn planet is in play concerning most anything; and you are trying to more or less wring value-profit somehow or other and God alone knows either the "somehow" or the "other."
On the other hand, there is an other hand. That is, oddly, a bizarre technology-driven revolution calls for far, far better "people skills," cultural awareness, and a certain looseness that allows you to go with-adapt to-get off on the weird flow. That is, the Age of the Web is for leaders the Age of EQ.* (*Emotional intelligence.) Quite simply, the old command and control styles and idea of dispassionate, order-barking "architect" or "conductor" of an orderly, hierarchical enterprise is dead, kaput—outta here.
Addenda on this topic/Leadership's eternal verities: Want to read perhaps the Best Management Book Ever? Try the Federalist Papers—recall my wife gave me an exquisite first edition for Christmas. The fellas—Hamilton, Madison, et a few alia —are trying to define a wholly new organizational approach based on a brand new conception of citizenry which will be slightly manageable and perpetually innovative and conducive to the pursuit of happiness. They are primarily wrestling with the eternal "centralization [Hamilton] versus decentralization [Jefferson]" conundrum—and, equally important, the inherently unsolvable tension between the two. (Extreme centralization = King or Dictator—and a dim view of citizens' self-management skills. Extreme decentralization = Anarchy—Brand You run amok.) This "battle"—centralization v. decentralization—is the leader's primary strategic task—and it will be ever thus.Tom Peters posted this on 01/16/2007.
As Tom says above, he traveled from Athens to Khobar, Saudi Arabia, where he is speaking at the JIWA Training Human Resources Conference. Click on their name and visit their website. Judging from the looks of it, I'd think Tom and their people would be a good match. If you attended the conference and you would like to get the slides, you can do so here:
JIWA Training, Khobar, Saudi Arabia, Final
JIWA Training, Khobar, T50
I said that there was no need for a "modern" "theory of leadership." Well, I do believe that. But I did miss a big point. "Old" "command & control leadership" was not the best way to get things done—even in the "old" days. But now it's more: "Command & control leadership," circa 1980, circa (alas) 2007, simply will not work in an age of widespread, global collaboration (wikinomics, crowdsourcing, etc.). So the "people-centric," "engagement-centric," "personal growth-centric," "service-servant based" "models" of leadership are ... not optional!Tom Peters posted this on 01/15/2007.
In this Blog we've talked about the incredibly high pay packets & bonus packets that have become the norm at Giant Co.—even in cases of outrageously bad performance. And though many of us have expressed "distress" (me among "us"), we have voted in the long run to more-or-less let the market do its generally useful thing. "Markets ... first, last, eternal"—or some such.
Well, I am a hardcore "markets guy," but I was also taught on Day 1 of Econ 1 that there are occasionally "externalities," which subvert the market-determined process to the point that, among other things, regulatory redress becomes necessary. Well, the "exec pay thing" may be "one of those cases"—indeed, the "mother of all cases."
The issue is backlash, perception—and a sometimes forgotten-at-one's peril principle of economic development & power. The Chairman of the New York Fed suggested in a recent speech that the real-perceived "wage gap" may be "the most important economic challenge of our time." ("Wages gap 'undermines support for free trade,'"—headline, Financial Times, 12 January, p. 3.)
The issue at hand is not primarily the "rich-poor" gap. It is lengthy (very!) stagnation of middle class-working class pay packets. The emergence of a powerful middle class, merchant class in England triggered and buttressed and sustained the Industrial Revolution and indeed the Empire itself—among other things. And the same is true today! The middle class, working class, shopkeeping class matters—and a middle class, working class, shopkeeping class revolt is underpinning Hugo Chavez—and is probably upon us in the U.S. (thanks, among other things, to the insipid Boards at the likes of Pfizer and Home Depot).
In short, "markets-for-talent" may be "working" in the executive suite and at the trading desks of Wall Street and in the City—per that bedrock supply-and-demand Econ 1 model. But if the net result is trade barriers, a screeching brake on globalization, global recession, a perpetually pissed-off middle class—and dry kindling for extremist "movements"—well, that should give us cause for reflection. Right?
("Cause for reflection?" C'mon ... we are waaaaay past "pause for reflection" ... in my view. How about ... the shit is hitting the fan.)
(This Post comes as I leave Athens. Athens, home to the first, by most measures, working democracy. Democracy does not demand economic equality—but it does demand, front and center, a widespread perception of fairness!) (A few more pics at Flickr—above is the inspiring sight around here that reveals itself at the end of any given street or alleyway.) (By the time you read this I'll be, higher forces and the airlines willing, in Khobar, Saudi Arabia.)Tom Peters posted this on 01/15/2007.
Many—including some of you, me, and the late Peter Drucker—have said that management needs its new Copernicus. In a recent dust-jacket blurb, I even had the gall to suggest that the new Tapscott-Williams book, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, might be a rough draft of a new theory-of-everything—when it comes to organizational behavior. (I also said—and meant—something similar, in 1987, about Stan Davis' Future Perfect.)
On the other hand ...
When it comes to leadership in "this modern age" ... I think the Old Greeks (I'm safe & sound in Athens—fresh from an inspiring visit to the Acropolis) will do just fine. I don't wish to sound like a fuddy-duddy, but when it comes to Leadership, there is nothing new under the sun—though there are surely timely manifestations.
Frankly, I got thinking about this courtesy a Comment on my "servant leadership" Post—which said we need new models of leadership. Also, I am bombarded with requests to speak on "21st Century leadership"—I agree, but then I turn the tables upon arrival.
I had a truly great year on the topic of leadership! In particular, as I've told you before ad nauseam, there was my glorious summer spent with U.S. Grant. There is, to leap ahead, literally nothing I learned (or had re-enforced), from Grant that does not apply, semi-colon for semi-colon, to "Leadership2007."
This post could run hundreds of pages—but I'll restrict myself to just a couple more paragraphs. At root, leading human enterprise is, in the immortal words of David Byrne ... same as it ever was. I.e.: "It's the people, stupid." In the less immortal words of yours truly: "Leaders 'do' people." Thence the stuff we're talking about in these current Posts—servant leadership, leadership as providing customer service and "scintillating experiences" to those for whom you are responsible, "only connect," "emotion matters" (as in, What else is there?). One (me!) suspects these very issues were as important among our aboriginal ancestors thousands of years ago as today. As to the likes of the "new technologies"—the human issues surrounding change (Who moved your cheese?) are also invariant.
(Even—especially?—the "unprecedented" "change" /"speed of change" argument is suspect. In General Grant's day the arrival of the telegraph was as radical, I think you could argue, as the arrival of the Web. "Unprecedented change"? My Mom, who died in 2005 experienced, among other things: the arrival of radio, long-distance phones, TV, computers, the Web, cars, flight (Wright brothers to 747s to Neil Armstrong), WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, the Cold War, the Korean "police action," Vietnam, Gulf Wars I & II, the scourge of HIV, etc, etc. By her standards, I've (we've) experienced a cakewalk!
I've got a new slide I use early in my current presentations: "The older I get, the less boring the 'basics' get." We indeed need new & radical models of organizations/organizational effectiveness. Hey, that's what I do for a living. But I also—and mostly—try to make "appropriately fresh" the idea that if you give people unstinting respect and an opportunity to learn and grow and be of service and be proud of what they do and who they do it with ... well "good stuff will happen."
The turning of the new year puts many in the goal-setting, self-analysis mindset. Tom's very good friend, Laurie Sain, hasn't limited herself to contemplation. She's very recently started a new blog called Re-Versioning Your Life. She's sharing her journey as she transforms herself to "Laurie 2.0." Her first few steps have included choosing her "personal board of directors" as well as an exercise in pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone with expression. Laurie details how to do each step, so if you're ready to make a change in your own professional or personal life, you may find her strategies and tools very useful. Since we thought "Laurie v 1.999" was already fabulous, we can't wait to see the launch of "Laurie 2.0!"Shelley Dolley posted this on 01/12/2007.
[Note: This was in the comments as a reply to Tom's blog entry of 11 January, and Tom asked Chris to make it into a front page post.—CM]
Continuing with the military/civilian leadership as service thought ...
"Serve to Lead" is the first lecture at Sandhurst [Royal Military Academy]. It comes as something of a shock to most officer cadets who are expecting to be put into a position of authority. They will be, but it's not quite the deal most expect. The right to lead in a military or civilian environment has to be earned. Officers and Business leaders have the same role. To ensure each member of the value creating community are the best they can be. That's a service.
Soldiers make a covenant with the country they serve. In exchange for their preparedness to sacrifice their lives to safeguard the nation's best interests, soldiers (and their families) are honoured and cared for. Primarily by their Officers and secondly by the nation in providing materially for them.
1. I believe that whilst the sacrifice employees make is not potentially as high as that of soldiers, they are giving a huge chunk of their lives to a business and giving up many other avenues of opportunity. Therefore they deserve no less leadership than our Military Officers provide for our soldiers.
More at http://www.army.mod.uk/
2. There is a huge amount of disquiet in the UK amongst soldiers and their families about standards of service accommodation at the moment. Service accommodation has always been at best "average." The reason it's an issue now is that our soldiers are being regularly killed and the duty of care feels like it is being neglected. Result—anger.
Only egotists see leadership as a hierarchical/command thing and they neglect their duty of care at their (organisation's) peril. ("Fragging" of civilian business managers is thankfully rare.)
Providing hope, direction, resources, training, a role model, and encouragement is, I believe, what all leadership, military and civilian, is about.Chris Nel posted this on 01/12/2007.
(1) Emotion. Leadership is about emotion. Period. I'm presuming it's okay to have a "great book pick" in 2007 be a book from 2002 (hey, I just read it—on my Boston-Athens flight). Hence, I very heartily recommend Daniel Goleman's (et al.) The New Leaders. It starts this way ...
"Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions."—Daniel Goleman, The New Leaders
(2) Connection. Only connect ...
That was the whole of her sermon.
Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted.
And human love will be seen at its height.
Live in the fragments no longer.
Only connect ...
—E.M. Forster, Howards End
(3) I started my speech today (to salesfolk from Roche UK) with a slide that simply read "Flower Power." I reflected on the power of small (heartfelt—key!) touches, from spousal relationships to sales of jet aircraft engines ... and pharmaceuticals. I appreciatively referred to the great statesman Henry Clay:
"Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart."—Henry Clay
I appended another slide, created for today (and stealing from all the above):
Axiom #65*: (1) It's always about relationships. (2) Sweat the small stuff—and the big stuff will take care of itself.
(I mean it.)
(*"Axiom65" refers to the fact that I am 65 this year ... and this is, as I put it, "all that I've learned for sure" in 6.42 decades. NB: Maybe Bob Nardelli should have been a student of Henry Clay!? Or Robert Greenleaf—see immediately below.)
(4) After a long dinner conversation with my colleague Chris Nel, I googled Robert Greenleaf. He is the author of the marvelous book Servant Leadership. The leader-as-servant. What a potent idea! (I knew of Greenleaf's work—but you know how it is, stuff strikes you like a ton of bricks that you've comprehended at another level for years.) To summarize the main argument (in part!):
1. Do those served grow as persons?
2. Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?
What a standard!
(But is there truly any other?)
Please re-read the quote.
Do you measure up?
What can you do if you buy Greenleaf's act?
(For starters, perhaps, literally ask yourself, at the end of the day, "What did I specifically do to be of service to my group? Was I fair & truly a 'servant'?" You might work with a friend-coach on this topic per se.)
(Incidentally, Chris was in the British armed services, and he reports that the idea of a leader as servant—using the term—was drummed into him. Makes sense.)
(Incidentally, this applies as much to the "junior" "individual contributor" trying to "make stuff happen" as to the chief of thousands.)
(Hmmmm ... in our "360" evaluations, what if we called the form a "Customer service survey"?)
(Incidentally, the full title of Greenleaf's book is ... Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. Nice, eh?)
(Incidentally, in my writing—e.g., above—I will hereinafter use "googled" with a lower case "g." It is a "robust part of life as we know it here on earth." Equal in importance to, say, oxygen.)
Courtesies of a small and trivial character.
Leader as servant.
(When I look at the 4 interconnected ideas, I am blown away by their power. Especially ... taken at face value.)
You could do worse!Tom Peters posted this on 01/11/2007.
"What did I specifically do to be of service to my group? Was I fair & truly a 'servant'?"
Think on this (exactly!) for 5–10 minutes before you go to work.
As I reflect on the past 3, 6, 12 months, can I answer the following in a positive manner?* (*Be specific!) That is:
1. Do those served grow as persons?
2. Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?
Here we go! The round of events for 2007 begins. The first of the year is in Athens, Greece, where Tom's speaking at the Roche UK Annual Sales & Marketing Conference. If you would like to get the slides, you can download them here:
XAlways, Roche UK
XAlways Long Version, Roche UK
Andrea Learned, coauthor of Don't Think Pink, has recently released an e-book through 800-CEO-READ titled 9 Minds on Marketing. Through interviews with the authors of nine books, Andrea provides a re-examination of the basic elements of marketing. She is also the founder of Learned on Women, and she writes a popular blog by the same name, both about marketing to women. We have often featured her blog on tpwireservice. Read the Cool Friends interview, her blog, or watch for her when you're snowboarding in Vermont.Cathy Mosca posted this on 01/10/2007.
A visitor to our blog pointed out that we were due to post another installment in the Success Tips series. As a result, we have posted Success Tips 51-75. Tom is up to number 81 of 100, so we may be putting up the whole collection soon. Right now, however, you can get a nicely designed (by the ChangeThis people) version of 1–50 and a less polished version of 51–75 on our free stuff page.Cathy Mosca posted this on 01/10/2007.
Jim's Mowing Canada
Jim's Mowing UK
Jim's Building Maintenance
Jim's Carpet Cleaning
Jim's Car Cleaning
Jim's Computer Services
Jim's Dog Wash
Jim's Driving School
Jim's Pool Care
Jim's Pressure Cleaning
Jim's Security Doors
Jim's Window Cleaning
The common thread is obvious: "help out"—in many respects still "blue ocean," and very in tune with our incredibly busy lives. The "help out" are my words, not Mr Penman's. FYI: You can also download—free—Jim's book: What Will They Franchise Next? The Story of Jim's Group. I plan to read it on my (long) trip to Athens.Tom Peters posted this on 01/09/2007.
I was mesmerized by Malcolm Gladwell's "Open Secrets: Enron and the Perils of Full Disclosure" in the 8 January New Yorker. While it doesn't let Mr Skilling off the hook, Gladwell does argue that the info needed to declare Enron a house of cards had been long (and pretty much fully) available via public filings. Gladwell's intriguing point is that this is in part a byproduct of, as the title suggests, too much data available—the problems were hidden amidst thousands upon thousands of pages of filed info—and no one "saw it."
I won't make the "Arbuckle Award Dinner 2007" at my alma mater—the Stanford Business School. But I'm delighted to see that the award goes to one of our grads who got an MBA and a PhD from the biz school—just like me. It's Henry McKinnell, who just retired as Pfizer chairman. He lost $125 billion in market cap—and, like Mr Nardelli, got a "takeaway" reward of $200 million or so for that accomplishment. Now that is a record worthy of an award, I'd say.
Off today for 5 weeks. Greece-Saudi Arabia-San Francisco for the next 14 days (4 seminars), followed by nearly 3 weeks of New Zealand summer hiking, including the Routeburn Track. I'll be silent during the NZ sojourn—no computer allowed, by direct order (including inspection) of my dearly beloved spouse. (She has a point.)
The New York Times (Bob Herbert) reported yesterday that the 93 million non-farm production and nonsupervisory workers in the U.S. saw their real earnings go up by $15.4 billion between 2000 and 2006. That's half of the Wall Street bonuses paid by just five firms in 2006.
I believe in markets—and I also believe that we are on the verge of backlash of a magnitude seldom seen.
(Add to the above the Pfizer and Home Depot CEOs' combined separation packages of about one-half bil—one was fired, the other lost over $100B in market cap. That is, two underperforming CEOs are paid for leaving 3% of the raise of 90+ million workers over a 6-year period.)
Loved this Comment to our MVP/Companies post:
"Tom, bravo on your recognition of Commerce Bank—who I believe have single handedly revived retail banking. I've been banking with them for about 5 years and can't say enough good things about them. As Tom said, they are always open and call themselves America's Most Convenient Bank, a perfectly fitting slogan. I like them so much that I recommend them to almost everyone—I actually hold back my recommendation for a few people I know who are real pains in the ass because I like Commerce so much I want to spare them from having to deal with them.
"As a New Yorker I have seen the big players (like Wells Fargo) try to emulate them, but they fall short because at Commerce customer service is in their damn DNA, and while that can be imitated, it can't be cloned. Those of you who don't bank at Commerce owe them a thanks for re-imagining retail banking, which will benefit customers of all banks."
Posted by Adam at January 3, 2007 3:56 PMTom Peters posted this on 01/09/2007.
The 1% "No brainer"
A strategic consultant taught me this years ago: "In the early afternoon, right after lunch, tell your participants, 'We're going to do a 30-minute breakout. Your task: Cut your current budget by 1%, no more and no less. Then we'll spend 15 minutes reporting back so that we all can get the hang of it. Anyone can do it. You will thus pay my fees 10 times over—and do yourselves a big favor.'"
I know all the arguments about the problems with budgets, across-the-board cuts, rolling budgets, etc, etc. Still, we all have cost issues. So whether you run a 2-person firm (or a one-person firm, for that matter), or a 723-person unit, this afternoon ... gather your leadership team, or everyone in the department, and take 1% (no more and no less) out of your budget-projected annual costs. As my colleague said, anyone can indeed do it—and it must not absorb more than an hour. Repeat now and again.
You'll be surprised how powerful this is—with a $100,000 projected cost, you can reap a $1,000 reward rather easily. (I do it with personal finances in particular.)
It adds up.Tom Peters posted this on 01/08/2007.
There's a convenience store near me. They just finished what I'd guess is a $500,000 renovation. It sure helps! Bravo!
The previously crappy staff attitude is as crappy as ever. (All the more obvious because there's a Starbucks just a block away. For that matter, I guess there's pretty much a Starbucks within a block of everything these days.) Frankly, I feel they pretty much pissed away the $500,000! I'll trade a paint job for attitude any day!
It calls to mind a big issue—which holds for the receptionist in the 3-person, walkup accountancy—and for the U.S. military. It's so easy—and so visible—to get caught up with the capital budget. It's "permanent" and you can take a picture of the result, often as not. The people budget is far more intangible—and far more important. Money isn't everything, but when you're almost finished your planning exercise this year, I urge you in the strongest words I can muster to cut the projected capital expenditures by 5% or 10% ... and put the savings into the people budget, penny for penny or billion for billion!
(Hint: This is a very, very big deal!)Tom Peters posted this on 01/08/2007.
[We posted Ben and Jackie's Cool Friends interview a week ago, but this announcement got lost in a flurry of blog entries, so we re-dated it to pull it ahead and give it more time on top of our front page.—CM]
People are taking brand loyalty to a whole new level when they use the Internet to broadcast their affection for your product. If all this hype about YouTube videos and consumer-generated content has you curious, the new book from Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, Citizen Marketers: When People Are the Message, will lay it all out for you. The Wall Street Journal's take on Citizen Marketers: "A solid ... insightful explanation of how the Internet has armed the consumer—which is to say, everyone—against the mindless blather of corporate messaging attempts. Drop everything and read this book."
Jackie and Ben are word-of-mouth marketing experts whose first book was Creating Customer Evangelists. They're our new Cool Friends. You can read the interview here and be sure to check out their Church of the Customer blog. Their 40 Talks in 40 Days book tour starts in February. See if they're coming to your city.Shelley Dolley posted this on 01/05/2007.
You'll notice a new banner at tompeters.com today. 2007 is the 25th anniversary of the publication of In Search of Excellence. Thus the Excellence25 logo on the right side of the banner with the years 1982-2007 running along the bottom. Our focus is not so much a celebration of the book, as much as a celebration of the idea of Excellence, which, as Tom said in his post of 29 December, is as potent today as it was when he first presented it. To that end, this is the first of what we hope are a dozen or more banners from our friend, designer Ken Silvia (he's the man behind the red exclamation point), exploring Excellence. We feel that the banner images convey the timelessness and power of Excellence. We hope you think so, too.Erik Hansen posted this on 01/05/2007.
"We were a boys' toy store designed for boys by boys."—Julie Gilbert, VP, Best Buy
"It's no longer the days of eight-track tapes and big speakers with the big foam that smells. The products we sell and the services we sell are about trends and fashion."—Julie Gilbert
"Women couldn't get anyone to help them. They weren't treated with respect."—Julie Gilbert
"We're working with the Girl Scouts, with private female colleges and others to recruit amazing women so we can delight our women customers."—Julie Gilbert
"Instead of hitting high-tech hysteria at Best Buy this holiday season, shoppers may notice a softer, more personal atmosphere. Music is quieter. Lights are lower. Salespeople talk to customers about their lifestyles, what they want the technology to do for them ... and how they want it to fit into their homes, offices, cars. ... If you need more help, one of thousands of its 'Geek Squad' techies will come to your home to hook stuff up."—USA Today, 12.20.06.
Welcome aboard the ultimate megatrend, Best Buy! It turns out that about 90 percent of consumer electronics decisions are made by or significantly influenced by ... women. So, too, DIY. Lowe's figured that out years ago—and it's a leading reason Lowe's has given Home Depot fits. (I remember a biz article that featured pics of the two contending CEOs. Home Depot's top gun was pictured among stacks of plywood. Mr Lowe's was shown among plants in the inside nursery. One photo doth not a strategy make, but still ...)
Not catering to women was hardly the whole reason Bob Nardelli took an invited hike yesterday—and will have to be content with his $200 million+ severance pay for a while. But it's not unrelated. I railed at Home Depot about the women's thing for years—my present to Bob, who is a pal. Some moves were made, but hardly up to the strategic re-orientation of Lowe's or, apparently, Best Buy.
Nardelli took an ailing giant—and put needed infrastructure in place to run a $100 billion company. Profits leaped but the stock stayed in the basement. And then there was the 2006 annual meeting fiasco—I predicted that was the end, but I was off by a few months. The meeting farce was tied to the nutty pay package. Nardelli was worth a ton ... but so many tons?
(Last Sunday the New York Times reported on the $200 million+ that the former Pfizer CEO walked away with—after losing more than $100 BILLION in market cap. Ye gads!)
(Exec pay is a thorny topic. On the one hand I think the market should rule. But there's also something to say for common sense and killing the goose who laid the billions of golden eggs. "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ..." Well, the pay issue to me is to a large extent about ducks—it "feels" all wrong, and business' reputation may sink below the "Enron days" if folks don't wise up.)
Then there was the "Home Despot" tag. Home Depot needed tough medicine—but a reign of terror? What I saw up close did not "make me shudder"—but it set alarm bells ringing.
(Nardelli was enraptured with the military approach—very common among those who did not serve, I've observed. Those of us who did serve know that the public "military model of leadership" has little to do with the real thing. As far as I know, incidentally, Nardelli's former boss, Jack Welch, was never active military either.)
Nardelli did a lot of good stuff. Nardelli did a lot of bad stuff. I applaud discipline and accountability—but do not believe that despot-like behavior is needed to achieve those goals.
I fear that Mr N got his just desserts.
Meanwhile, again, hats off to Best Buy:
(1) Cater to women! (Hey, they buy everything.)
(2) Put women leaders in charge—Best Buy's female "wolf pack" aims to get a woman in the CEO's seat at Best Buy! (The leadership profile ought to mostly mirror the buyers' profile.)
(3) And: Watch the money flow in!
(NB: Marti Barletta's wonderful PrimeTime Women: How to Win the Hearts, Minds, and Business of Boomer Big Spenders ... is on the shelves! So, too, Margaret Heffernan's terrific How She Does It: How Women Entrepreneurs Are Changing the Rules of Business Success.)
[Note from Cathy: We did a thorough search of every source we had access to, and we found no evidence of Mr Nardelli's being active in the service, let alone a war zone. But if you know something we don't, we're sure you'll fill us in.]Tom Peters posted this on 01/04/2007.
On 4 December I made a Post about favorite ("excellent") companies. I want to finish that thought by offering my co-winners of the Most Valuable Companies Award 2006. They are three in number:
Dick Kovacevich, CEO of top performing Wells Fargo Bank, said a couple of years ago: "Analysts preferred cost cutting, as long as they could see two or three years of EPS growth. I preached revenue and the analysts' eyes would glaze over. Now revenue is 'in' because so many got caught, and earnings went to hell. They said, 'Oh my gosh, you need revenues to grow earnings over time.' Well, Duh!" Go Dick! I consider myself a died-in-the-wool "top line" guy-fanatic. Hence, my first of three winners for 2006 is a bank, albeit not Wells. Namely ... COMMERCE BANK.
They love deposits. They hate stupid rules (remind me to tell you about the Red "no stupid rules" button on every computer terminal). They want people to come into the branch rather than use the ATM or Web. They keep said branches open all the damn time (no exaggeration). They love individuals of modest net worth. They think that when you call them you should speak to a ... l-i-v-i-n-g h-u-m-a-n b-e-i-n-g. They love to give out dog biscuits and balloons—and think nothing of taking 8,000 employees to Radio City Music Hall to celebrate a good year.
They think "Wow!" is the coolest word ever (no wonder I love them!!), and that it belongs in banking. They like fun ... and I guess they don't like the Bank of America: "We defy conventional wisdom, operating more like the young bucks at Starbucks than the old farts at the Bank of America."—Vernon Hill, founder and CEO.
J.D. Power likes them ... for example, Commerce recently won a Power award for best customer service for a bank in New York City by placing 1st in 5 of 6 categories and 2nd in the sixth. They are incredibly profitable in hyper-tough East Coast retail banking markets and growing like Topsy.
Hill loves revenue growth ("Our whole story is growing revenue"). And he believes religiously in getting that revenue growth organically ("No great American retailer was ever created by doing acquisitions"); growth-by-acquisition, he insists, is invariably followed by a cost cutting mentality that turns the customer into a second class citizen.
Bingo ... on every score.
My paternal grandfather came to Baltimore in the 1870s and became a very successful contractor. Skipping a generation, I got a masters degree at Cornell in construction management. So it has always annoyed me that you never see a contractor on the "bests" lists. Hence, with the greatest pleasure, I name as my second winner ... JOHN LAING HOMES. (FYI ... there is no meaning to the order.)
The JLH story is in its own way a repeat of Commerce. CEO Larry Webb says: "We don't 'close units,' we build homes." No big deal, you say. Wrong! The focus by our second largest homebuilder is on the customer, the customer's family, the customer's community and values, and the customer's experience from way before start with JLH to way past finish—not exactly the norm in the "unit-building" world in which John Laing competes. JLH competes on/by design (again, no wonder I love them)—every division in the company, no exceptions, has won top design awards. Professional Builder named them "Builder of the Year" in 2003. And, like Commerce, J.D. Power awards for best customer service cover the walls. And get this: On their home turf, Orange County, CA, JLH is one of the "best places to work" according to the Orange County Register—imagine, I barely can, a builder as best place to work!
Maybe the John Laing story was summed up best in a September 2006 headline in BigBuilder: "Soft Skills, Hard Dollars" Yup, housing is in the tank at the moment—but I confidently predict that JLH will do better than its peers during the downturn and keep rollin' along.
I love Adelaide! I love a guy who can turn cuttin' grass and walkin' dogs into a 2,600-franchise, global business. Hence, I love Jim Penman. He's the founder and boss of my third MVP winner ... JIM's GROUP. It started with part-time grass cutting by a grad student—and has become a force. We're all busy as hell, with the 2-worker, 2-professional family virtually the norm. And what a need ("Blue ocean"?) Jim's Group fulfills. They do all the work you don't want to do/don't have time to do—from grass cutting and dog walking to home repairs and driveway care and you name it. Though Jim's has no J.D. Power awards (there are no JDP awards in Australia or New Zealand or the UK, where the group does its business)—the customer service standards would perhaps intimidate even the Four Seasons. Like Commerce and John Laing, Jim's Group lives the "people first" strategy-life with an abiding passion—not precisely the norm in the grass mowing industry! And franchisee relations would make most any franchisor drool.
There you have it! I love these three winners! My principal criteria were: "excellence so obvious you'd have to be an idiot not to 'get it'" and "excellence where you'd least expect it." And of course, I'm hardly sad that all three sagas are based on: revenue-rules-the-roost, people first, a passion for customers, Wow! ... and the relentless and avowed pursuit of excellence. (Oh, and they do indeed make a buck or three or four or six at the end of the day.)
In my 4 December post, I summarized the traits that marked not only these three champions, but my whole group of 20 or so:
*Focused on revenue, organic growth and "offense," not defense and cost containment.
*Provide mind-bending experiences. (Driven by design primacy.)
*Nuts about customers.
*Happy to use words like "Wow."
*Pretty close to the high end of the market.
*Ability to make silk purses filled with gold out of sows' ears.
Works for me!
(Attached you'll find a short PowerPoint on the winning trio and a few summary slides from the overall Excellence.2006 presentation.)Tom Peters posted this on 01/03/2007.
I know Dick Cheney and former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond—and for that matter, Michael Crichton—say no deal. Maybe you do, too. That is, global warming—or not. Hence the picture above is a report, not an OpEd. Apple blossoms, Boston Public Garden, 1 January 2007. (And the bears are waking up in Russia—metaphorically and for real.) The ice sculpture picture below is from First Night Boston, the oldest FN in the country.
Tom Peters posted this on 01/02/2007.
The biz book biz has gone bonkers since In Search of Excellence. (Hey, I've added 14 others to the pile.) On the other hand, the "Eight Basics" of Search have held up damn well (as have most of the companies—though "built to last," as you know by now, leaves me cold):
1. A Bias for Action. Call it "implementation." Call it "execution." It's the heart of both those key ideas. Too much talk, too little do. Problem-opportunity #1, 1982. Problem-opportunity #1, 2007. And a beast as one grows—and acquires.
2. Close to the Customer. Call it "loyalty" or "customer intimacy" or (God help us) "customer-centric organization." Though I'd move it down to #3 today (people #2), it's as fresh as ever and honored in the breach—again, particularly as giantism emerges. Come hell and/or high water, get close-as-hell to that customer, listen to that customer, and love up that customer for all you're worth.
3. Autonomy and Entrepreneurship. This was, more or less, our innovation piece. Let 1,000 flowers bloom—and then turn it over to Darwin. No autonomy, no accountability; no autonomy, no insane investment in new stuff.
4. Productivity Through People. Obvious—1982. Obvious—2007. But truly "people-obsessed companies" ("talent-obsessed" today) are still rare as can be—we keep trotting out GE's people development process for a reason—we can't think of anyone else among the giants.
5. Hands On, Value-Driven. MBWA/Managing By Wandering Around (circa 1982 and HP). MBWA today!! Absent then. Absent now. Run a place by values-first leadership? Then. Now. Rare.
6. Stick to the Knitting. Misunderstood in '82. We bought Richard Rumelt's (UCLA) act—and I still do. He called the winning approach "related diversification." It ain't about sticking with a pat hand, however "excellent" today—it is about hanging in with stuff you understand. Still a good idea—just ask the private equity boys (and girls), circa 2006.
7. Simple Form, Lean Staff. We pleaded for this in 1982, but we were not aggressive enough. And, of course, there were no Internet-run companies and no outsourcing. Still, the basic idea is fresh as a daisy—and rare as apple blossoms in January in Boston. (Whoops.)
8. Simultaneous Loose-Tight Properties. Confusing to some, gospel to a few (Bob Stone—the exec in charge of re-inventing government in the 90s, who accomplished a helluva lot more than most people realize). Idea: Stick with a few key values ... then let her rip! ("Change anything not 'below the waterline'" was the way W.L. Gore founder Bill Gore put it to us—and it's still working for his firm today. (Or I hope it is—I'm depending on GORE-TEX® when I go hiking in New Zealand at the end of this month.)
Of course there are a jillion ways to say any of these—but their simplicity was the trick. I could as easily give a speech covering these exact ideas with these exact words today as 25 years ago. For instance, when I recently learned that Starbucks founder Howard Schultz visits 25 stores per week and that former Goldman Sachs boss Hank Paulson used to call 70 clients right after New Year's just to "check in," I said—"MBWA then for the best, MBWA now for the best." (Hint: I will be giving some speeches this year with the so-called "eight basics" as my exact outline. Sure my increasingly noisy "women's stuff" will be fit into "close to the customer" and "productivity through people," but the basic outline will be familiar.)
Above picture: aftermath of New Year's—Boston Common, 1 January 2007 @ 7 a.m.Tom Peters posted this on 01/02/2007.
As worthy a New Year's Resolution as you'll find (or I'll find):
"Do one thing every day that scares you."—Eleanor Roosevelt
I don't use your laundry detergent.
But you (your ads) sure are right when you urge us to wash clothes in cold water.
I started today.
Energy independence, here we come!
No, I don't like regulation. But I do actually like the California law that makes it illegal to leave a dog in a hot car or to allow a dog to be chained somewhere more than three hours. In fact, I hope it's a felony to do either of these things!
Forbes has AT&T on its current cover as the best company in America. Barron's has AT&T on its cover (0101.2007) as a prospective stockmarket turkey. I vote Barron's in part because of what follows, which of course is my economic religion: "New technologies—and new competitors—have rendered Ma one of many telecom providers fighting for a piece of the action, instead of the only Bell at the ball. Where size once equaled might, greater heft today will do nothing to invigorate AT&T/BellSouth's stagnant revenue."
We're sorry to report that we're having technical difficulties at TP Wire Service today. As soon as we sort things out, we'll resume our regular postings. Thanks for your patience.Shelley Dolley posted this on 01/02/2007.
What we're talking about on the front page.
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.
What we're talking about
on the front page.