Monthly Archives: June 2005

Business excellence in a disruptive age

I admit that I’ve never read cover-to-cover the book that apparently put Tom Peters on the map as a management guru (i.e. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from Americas Best Run Companies). Frankly, when I read Fast Company’s article on Tom Peters celebrating the 20th anniversary of the book’s publication–“I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote ‘Search.'”–I wasn’t sure that I’d ever read a book by him.

Re-Imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age is unique on many different levels, and some of the uniqueness works for me. This is the first business book I’ve seen with such an extensive use of color, graphics, pictures, fonts, etc. that result in a visually engaging and effective format. Prior to this publication, my exposure to publisher DK was limited to the high-quality picture-word books for kids (e.g. this). I never imagined that a business book could be done in a similar manner. (Given the book’s title, my reaction was likely anticipated and encouraged.)

On the other hand, the book ends up coming across as a collection of sound bites. Almost every phrase is catchy and that tends to dull the entire tome. Perhaps I just needed more context and build up to a few, powerful and profound main points.

Nevertheless, Re-imagine! made the following impressions on me:

  • “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” -General Eric Shineski, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
  • The whole emphasis on PSFs (Professional Services Firms), WOW projects–for the individual, team and company
  • “Beyond Solutions: Providing Memorable ‘Experiences'” offers the generational evolution of the kid’s birthday cake as a “sticky” example of moving from raw materials (flour), to goods (cake mix), to services (ready-made cakes), and now to experiences (birthday party with cake at Chuck E. Cheese’s). Raw materials cost the least but require more time. Experiences cost the most but offer intangibles beyond time reclamation.
  • “Design is the heart and soul of a dream/solution.”
  • Reframers’ Rule #2: “You are never so powerful as when you are ‘powerless.'” There is less scrutiny, less red tape and less process.
  • Boss work that works: “Find Heroes. Do Demos. Tell Stories.”
  • “The ‘Brand You’ Survival Kit” by Tom Peters: “(1) Think like an entrepreneur. (2) Always be a ‘closer.’ (3) Embrace marketing. (4) Pursue mastery. (5) Thrive on ambiguity. (6) Laugh off vigorous screw-ups. (7) Nurture your network. (8) Relish technology. (9) Grovel before the young. (10) Cultivate a passion for renewal.”
  • “The Learners’ Manifesto” by Insult to Intelligence: The Bureaucratic Invasion of Our Classrooms author Frank Smith: “The brain is always learning. Learning does not require coercion. Learning must be meaningful. Learning is incidental. Learning is collaborative. The consequences of worthwhile learning are obvious. Learning always involves feelings. Learning must be free of risk.”
  • Politics – noun. “Getting things done through people”–something a leader must love…politics!

When I read, I thrive on meat (mental engagement) more than candy (visual engagement). It’s interesting for me to recall my first reaction to Re-imagine! when I was still on a sugar high…how, in the end, I’m simply left wanting more…

Update 12/1/2008: For more of my book reviews and to see what else is in my book library (i.e. just the business-related or software-related non-fiction therein), please visit my Books page.