"Excellent firms of tomorrow will cherish impermanence-and thrive on chaos." Tom Peters
CONTEXT: SEMINAR. QUESTION FROM EXEC OF BELEAGURED COMPANY. "I'VE GOT TO DO RADICAL CULTURE CHANGE. WHADDA I DO FIRST?"
I AM BEFUDDLED. I CAN'T IN ALL GOOD CONSCIENCE RECOMMEND A "TRAINING PROGRAM." YOU MAY WANT TO DO THAT LATER. BUT "BIG CHANGE STUFF" IS [VERY] PERSONAL! [AND … I THINK: YOU ARE EITHER ON THE BUS. OR YOU ARE NOT.]
"It" is … Black or White. (Forget Gray, Shades of.) (That is: DECIDE. NOW. I have the nerve. I don't. 'Tis my personal Custer's Last Stand, my Waterloo, my March on Selma. Or it is not/ I am not serious.) ("One minute Excellence," per legendary IBM boss Thomas Watson: STOP DOIN' NON-EXCELLENT STUFF … RIGHT NOW. FOREVER. AND EVER. I.e., the Alcoholics Anonymous model.)
Axiom: You/"boss" can't mandate "risk taking behavior." YOU MUST LIVE/MODEL IT … ONE MEETING AT A TIME, ONE EMAIL AT A TIME, ONE DAY AT A TIME. (Message: "Micromanage" yourself! Perform a post mortem on every action!/Create a "Conscience Circle" of pals to keep you honest?)
Focus on The Current Project! The next milestone! (PROJECTS RULE! "IT" … culture change … STARTS … AND ENDS … WITH REAL STUFF. I.E., PROJECTS. AXIOM: PROJECTS RULE. PROJECTS … my current project … IS/ARE THE CURRENCY OF LIFE. I WILL BE JUDGED BY THE COOLNESS OF MY PROJECTS!)
Use "Technicolor Language": E.g.: WOW! E.g.: FUN! (Serious culture change is a … Passionate … Technicolor "business.") (If you have trouble with "Technicolor language" … WORRY … A LOT.)
Become a RECRUITING MANIAC. ASSIDUOUSLY SEEK CONVERTS. (Remember: You are in a permanent "sales mode.") (Remember: "Powerless is Cool." "Powerless" allies who are passionate about "our work"/ "our cause" are the point! It's the PASSION that matters!)
Mantra I: I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR BULLSHIT. ("I have but one life to live/give …" Epitaph from Hell: "HE WOULDA DONE SOME REALLY COOL STUFF, BUT HIS BOSS WOULDN'T LET HIM.")
CULTURE CHANGE IS NOT "CORPORATE."
CULTURE CHANGE IS NOT A "PROGRAM."
CULTURE CHANGE DOES NOT TAKE "YEARS."
CULTURE CHANGE DOES NOT START "TODAY."
CULTURE CHANGE STARTS RIGHT NOW!
CULTURE CHANGE LIVES IN THE MOMENT.
CULTURE IS ENTIRELY IN YOUR HANDS!
The Nasdaq is going through the roof. Whoops. No. It's plunging.
Hooray! The New Economy is here! The NYSE is dead. Whoops. It chalks up its biggest one-day climb in history.
I.e.: Welcome to The Age of Permanent White Water. The Message is the volatility per se. Don't expect it to end any time soon. (Meaning years, not months.)
Or, rather, the Real Message is that we are re-inventing economics. The bases of Value Creation. And: NOBODY HAS A CLUE AS TO WHO'S ON FIRST … LET ALONE SECOND OR THIRD. (Or in the dugout. Or at Spring Training camp.)
The Wall Street Journal of 03.16.00 has a feature on HGS [Human Genome Sciences]. On February 16, a patent announcement triggered a one-day, 41%, $3.8 billion surge.
But is the patent clean? Clear answer: NOBODY KNOWS. Clear answer: NOBODY WILL KNOW ANYTIME SOON. Should you buy HGS? God alone knows … maybe.
TP Message: What a hoot! Enjoy! It doesn't get any better/weirder than this!
The "Why" is none of your business. Fact: I'M READING A LOT OF STUFF ABOUT DEALING WITH ADOLESCENTS. It's a horror story! Kids - age 14ish - seeking (GROPING!!) to find an/their identity. (Oh shit, I remember "it" all too well!)
Problem: I identify with these kids! I'm not at all sure who (whom?) I am … at age 57.
It got me thinking about "management" and "leadership." The (secret) truth: It's a bloody miracle when we (leaders) get ANYTHING right!
Fact: Every 27- and 37- and 47- and 57-year-old is … STILL … hunting for who she/he is.
Thence our role as leaders: HELP PEOPLE FIND/DEFINE THEMSELVES! (Big word: HELP. Different than: Guide/Tell!!)
Reagan told us we were not in a (Carterian) "malaise." WE COULD (STILL) ASSERT OURSELVES. (We did.) Roosevelt told us to buck up. He prominently displayed his jaunty smile. We smiled, too. King told the (Black) masses to get their shit together … and stand up to (hollow) whitey. ("They" did!) And: Gandhi said …
YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS. He created a billion-person Democracy.
Patton told the dispirited American troops in North Africa: Shine Your Shoes! You are Real Troops! (They did. And a coupla weeks later they defeated Rommel.)
"It" is - I am convinced - all about FINDING VOICE! Such is the fact of life for Community Organizers: HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND - IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS - THAT THEY ARE NOT POWERLESS!
And it holds in HR or Finance.
We are all groping. ALL THE TIME. It is a miracle that … ANYTHING … gets done.
So our role … WE WHO CHOOSE TO LEAD …. is "merely" to help our colleagues to choose. To choose … passivity. Or … to choose to … RUN THEIR OWN LIVES. (And if "it" gets in "our" way … SOOOOO MUCH THE BETTER.)
ALL OF LIFE IS CONFUSED AS SHIT. AT 27. OR AT 57. SO: HELP PEOPLE DEFINE THEMSELVES - per our model, via a WOW Project! - and you can do no more with your life!
I've started a collection of pornographic pictures. At age 57.
My latest was carefully snipped from The New York Times on Friday, 10 March 2000. (Page C4.) It's a press photo of Bernard Walter, CEO of Dresdner Bank. He is announcing a merger with Deutsche Bank.
Mr. Walter is an Old White Male. With cooking cigarette prominently in hand. Doubtless expounding at length on the topic of synergy.
I went ballistic. Here's why.
I had just read two articles. One, in Fortune, described the fortunes of three of America's merger-frenzied banks; namely, First Union, Bank One and Bank of America. Every merger promised synergy. Every merger, in fact, produced pitiful financial performance, despite massive layoffs. And, of course, every merger was crafted between two OWMs … Old White Males. (The Boston papers this weekend featured another merger, and I don't even remember who did whom. Anyway, several thousand layoffs were announced, followed by the unearthing of a proxy statement showing that the two "OWM" CEOs had bagged nearly $40 million for their efforts.)
Article two, passed along on-line by my colleague Tara, reported on the most under-reported story, in my view, in the American economy. Namely, the 9 MILLION women owned businesses in America, employing 27.5 MILLION Americans (1 in 4 workers), and bringing in $3.6 TRILLION in revenue. (More bucks, ironically, than the entire German economy's GDP.) ("Incidentally" … these entrepreneurial women bagged a pathetic 1.6 percent of venture capital dollars.)
Most of the rest of my PORN PICS collection comes from the back pages of annual reports. You know the ones: the "board" or "operating committee" depicted on a winding staircase … the 20 guys and 1 or 2 token women. Perhaps a token African American. Never a tok Hispanic or tok Asian American.
I don't have a politically correct cell in my body. (Obviously. I collect porn.) I am not a "quotas guy." I think Affirmative Action served us well, and I will say no more than that. I'M NOT - DESPITE MY ADVANCED AGE OF 57 - LOOKING FOR "HEAVEN POINTS." Here's my horror (Marlin Brando in Apocalypse Now: "THE HORROR. THE HORROR."): I THINK IT IS STUPID WHEN A PICTURE OF "CORPORATE LEADERS" IS TOTALLY AT ODDS WITH THE COMPOSITION OF THE MARKETS THEY SERVE!
That's all. That's my only gripe: STUPIDITY. GROSS STUPIDITY.
I've never collected porn before. And I am nervous. What if … my plane crashed … and "they" recovered among my effects a folder full of pics of VOIWGs - very old incompetent white guys? Oh dear. I'm heading for the fireplace as we speak. BUT I CAN'T. THESE PICTURES ARE TOO "GOOD" - STUPID - TO BE TRUE. Your comments?
A VERSION OF THIS PIECE WILL APPEAR IN SALES AND MARKETING MANAGEMENT
Michael Dell screwed everything up. Just ask Jacques Nasser.
Wanna computer? Any damn configuration you wish? Want it tomorrow? Want to order it at 2 a.m. from your hotel room in Jeddah?
No prob. Michael will take care of you!
Wanna change the complete configuration of your financial portfolio? At 3 a.m.? In Vladivodstock? No prob. Charlie [Schwab] will take care of you.
Which means Jacques has a [B-I-G] problem. Jacques, that is Mr. Nasser, is CEO of Ford. (Yes, cars.) And it is 4a.m. And I am in Zurich. And I'm coming home to Vermont tomorrow. And I want the Ford of my choice -- and make, and color -- in my driveway when I arrive. WHY NOT? 1-800-FLOWERS.COM can do it. And Michael can do it. And Charlie. WHY NOT JACQUES?
Well, it happens that Mr. Nasser "gets it." I call him Deal-a-Day Jacques. He partners with MSN CarPoint. And then Yahoo! And Oracle. And HP. He is remaking Ford. A.S.A.P.
Anne Busquet of American Express calls it not the Age of the Internet, but the …
Age of Customer Control.
Silicon Valley marketing guru Regis McKenna labels it the …
Age of the Never Satisfied Customer.
Personally, I'm enamored with the ad tagline from American Eagle Outfitters: Shop in Your Underwear! (Amen!) (And do see www.ae.com.)
Of course, it ain't just consumer goods. To the contrary, the BIG Internet "play" is B2B: business-to-business.
I WANT TO TAKE CARE OF MY PRINTING AND CHEMICAL AND TRAINING AND STEEL AND KNOWLEDGE WORKER NEEDS … AT 2 A.M. … IN MY HOTEL ROOM IN DELHI. So: Try the Web pages of Collabria (commercial printing), ChemConnect (chemicals), DigitalThink (corporate training), E-steel (yes, steel), Portera (knowledge workers). ETC!
Message: Welcome to the new world of "sales and marketing"! THE WORLD WHERE THE … CUSTOMER RULES THE ROOST. THE WORLD WHERE THE CUSTOMER/CITIZEN/PATIENT IS NOT AN IDIOT. THE WORLD WHERE THE CUSTOMER COULDN'T CARE LESS ABOUT FINAL FOUR TICKETS. (EVEN CENTER COURT.) THE WORLD WHERE THE CUSTOMER REPORTS MUCH HIGHER "SATISFACTION" SCORES ONLINE (Cisco Systems) THAN WHEN DEALING WITH "REAL PEOPLE."
This is Cool. This is Fun! WE GET TO REINVENT SALES AND MARKETING … FROM THE GROUND UP … IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS. (OR … WE'LL BE OUT OF A JOB.)
The weather was crummy, but she drove down from Connecticut to have dinner with
Susan and me in Manhattan anyway. "I decided to say 'Yes,'" my mother-in-law said.
I like that: DECIDED TO SAY "YES."
Joan told us of an old friend of hers. This feisty lady attributed her energetic later years to but three things, the report goes:
Joan said she'd decided to turn down our dinner invitation. Too far to drive Too late. Long day already. Blah. Blah. Blah.
"And then," she said, "I remembered X. 'Urge yourself to say Yes, especially when it's inconvenient.'"
We had a lovely dinner. I'm glad she urged herself to say "Yes." And: I've filed her friend's BIG THREE pieces of advice away carefully. THEY ARE IMPORTANT FOR ALL OF US AT ALL AGES! (I bet you're like me, and you've honored at least one in the breach ... today!)
I got up on Sunday, full of energy. Instead of heading to my computer, I took off on a 10-mile hike at 6a.m. What follows will not impress the brethren and sistren in the South and West, but may give heart to my fellow sufferers of The EWN/Endless Winters of the Northeast. So: AT 7:24 A.M. ON SUNDAY, MARCH 5, 2000, I SAW MY FIRST FLOCK OF CANADIAN GEESE … HEADING NORTH. [THERE IS HOPE.]
A guy sitting across the aisle from me on a flight from SOMEWHERE to SOMEWHERE ELSE said he had "no luck at solitaire," computer-style. To which I say: RUBBISH. I will say I'm loathe to admit that I got addicted to computer solitaire about three months ago. [Hey, we all need MMBs/Mindless Mental Breaks.] Problem is, I'm so bloody damn competitive. Good news: Learning anything new provides Insights About Life. Herewith mine:
The Mother of All Predictions!
TOM PETERS OBSERVATION 03-03-00 (DAY #63 OF THE NEWMILLENNIUM):
WHITE-COLLAR WHITE WATER AHEAD, NIAGARA FALLS-STYLE!
"What's your evidence?"
I contend that "Ninety percent of White-Collar Jobs—as we know them today—will disappear or be changed beyond recognition in the next 10+ years."
Strong language! [Understatement.]
Can I prove it?
Of course not!
But ... I've got an inkling: namely the ... FIVE-SIDED PINCER MOVEMENT.
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.