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In Search of Excellence: Lessons from Americas Best Run Companies Paperback – August 15, 1988
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Based on seven years of reporting from over a dozen countries, writer Tom Wainwright takes you on an extraordinary journey into the business of being a drug lord. Learn more.
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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.
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.
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
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An old book but still teaches plenty of management lessons.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Tom Peters admitted in 2001 that "we faked the data", really? Here is the source if your interested from Bloomberg. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
an excellent book about successful companies written in an excellent wayPublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
1 of the best books on Corporate Management, which continues to give basic lessons, and even more compelling in global companies and markets.Published 3 months ago by Brian F. Randall