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In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies Paperback


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In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies + Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't + Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Harper Business Essentials)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; Reprint edition (February 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060548789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060548780
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 3.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“One of those rare books on management that are both consistently thought-provoking and fun to read.” (Wall Street Journal)

From the Publisher

The now classic volume that became an immediate bestseller as well as a landmark business book. "One of those rare books on management that are both consistently thought-provoking and fun to read."--Wall Street Journal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Walter Nicolau on December 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This publication is a survey written by a couple of McKinsey consultants that seek to define the characteristics of successful, I mean excellent, organizations using the McKinsey 7-S framework; Structure, Systems, Style, Staff, Skills, Strategy, and Shared Values.
Their findings suggest that eight attributes are common for an excellent organization; bias for action, close to the customer, autonomy and entrepreneurship, productivity through people, hands on, value driven, stick to the knitting (=focus on what you do best), simple form lean staff, and simultaneous loose-tight properties (balance between centralized/decentralized organization). This is it.
Although the authors have a pleasant narrative style and are eloquent in making their point, I hesitate to buy into the arguments presented, first and foremost because I question the all encompassing validity of the McKinsey 7-s approach. Secondly, the authors cite companies such as Digital and Wang as qualifying for excellency. Whatever these companies did during the eighties, it wasn't good enough in the end since their advantage was not sustained and hence I wouldn't call them excellent. Thirdly, the best before stamp is obvious.
I do find the introduction and management theory review very well written and enjoyable. Ironically, (for me) the authors find that chapter the least important part of the book. I beg to differ. Overall, this would make a good intro for those interested in management theory. While you're at it, try to also take a look at Michael Porter's and Peter Drucker's work. In my view they are the authority in the field.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
I don't have much to add to the other reviews here on the content, but as a couple of reviewers here have pointed out, there's a problem with the way they reached their conclusions. They chose a series of metrics as indicators of "excellence": they ranked companies on these metrics to identify a sample of "excellent companies": they then profiled these companies to find common features. Statisticians call this "selecting on the dependent variable": all excellent companies might have a certain feature, but you can only say that the feature has something to do with their excellence if non-excellent companies don't have it. The features that Peters picks out might be important, but the research they do doesn't in any way prove that.
There was a follow-up piece of research done some years later (not by the authors) in a paper called "excellence revisited", which argued that excellence was basically a temporary phenomenon, and that even these companies reverted to the mean. This looked at the "excellent companies" subsequent performance and found that on average, they had deteriorated significantly in all measures of performance. They then picked a sample of "non-excellent companies" using the same ranking criteria as the original book did at the time that the original research was done. Sure enough, these on average improved significantly in performance.
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60 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gering on May 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Few people can lay claim to having created an industry. TomPeters can.
Tom Peters is widely credited with having created themanagement guru industry. Before him it is said that "management thinkers wrote articles in academic journals, gave the occasional seminar, and worked as consultants for a few large corporations". The biggest blockbusters sold under five hundred thousand books.
`In Search of Excellence', co-authored with Bob Waterman, is Tom Peters first book and sold over 6 million copies. Its success surprised their colleagues at McKinsey, who had laughed at the idea that Peters and Waterman would keep the royalties, "should the book sell 50 000 copies".
Two decades later, `In Search of Excellence' is still one of the most readable management books. The eight characteristics of excellent companies, a bias for action, close to the customer, autonomy and entrepreneurship, productivity through people, hands-on values driven, stick to the knitting, simple form and lean staff, simultaneous loose-tight properties are all still relevant and still ignored today. It is written clearly, painting vivid pictures with anecdotes and examples from real companies.
Peters went on to become a megastar in the field of management entertaining, able to charge up to $80 000 for a one day show. The management guru industry is estimated to exceed a billion dollars and management books, including several by Peters himself, now regularly find their way into the best seller list. Peters'later writings have sometimes inspired and sometimes puzzled a new generation of managers.
This book is a classic. Great companies struggle to remain on top over an extended period. But the lessons learned endure. END
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book was the 1982 best-selling look at what were then excellent companies and an attempt to distill the eight attributes they had in common. It still ranks high as an important historical contribution, but two-thirds of the "excellent" companies disappeared, got acquired and disassembled, or went through extreme difficulties. Hindsight tells us the eight attributes were simply things those companies did well at the time, but were not the answer to longevity. In fact, at least five of the eight attributes appear to be detrimental now. However, this book is still a good read for those wishing to track the evolution of management thinking from at least early Drucker to the present.
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