Friday, November 11, 2011

In Search Of Excellence: Lessons From America's Best-Run Companies By Thomas J. Peters, Robert H. Waterman

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

In Search of Excellence : Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies
By Thomas J. Peters, Robert H. Waterman

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(55 customer reviews)

Product Description

The "Greatest Business Book of All Time" (Bloomsbury UK), In Search of Excellence has long been a must-have for the boardroom, business school, and bedside table.

Based on a study of forty-three of America's best-run companies from a diverse array of business sectors, In Search of Excellence describes eight basic principles of management -- action-stimulating, people-oriented, profit-maximizing practices -- that made these organizations successful.

Joining the HarperBusiness Essentials series, this phenomenal bestseller features a new Authors' Note, and reintroduces these vital principles in an accessible and practical way for today's management reader.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #22722 in Books
  • Published on: 2004-02-29
  • Format: Bargain Price
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 400 pages
Editorial Reviews

"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

About the Author

Thomas J. Peters, "uber-guru of business" (Fortune and The Economist), is the author of many international bestsellers, including A Passion for Excellence and Thriving on Chaos. Peters, "the father of the post-modern corporation" (Los Angeles Times), is the chairman of Tom Peters Company and lives in Vermont.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

62 of 67 people found the following review helpful.
3Management as Science
By Walter Nicolau
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.

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful.
3selecting on the dependent variable
By A Customer
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.

51 of 58 people found the following review helpful.
5The first management blockbuster and still a classic
By Michael Gering
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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