In Search of Excellence

Lessons from America’s Best-run Companies

by Tom Peters , Robert H. Waterman JR

Number of pages: 400

Publisher: Harper Business

BBB Library: Business Classics

ISBN: 978-0060548780

About the Authors

Tom Peters : Tom Peters is the bestselling business book author of all time.


Robert H. Waterman JR : Robert H. Waterman Jr. is a former senior partner of McKinsey


Editorial Review

The Belgian Surrealist Rene Magritte painted a series of pipes and entitled the series “Ceci n’est pas une pipe (This is not a pipe). The picture of thing is not the thing. In the same way, an organization chart is not a compandy, nor a new strategy an automatic answer to corporate grief. We all know this; but when trouble lurks, we call for a new strategy and probably reorganize. And when we reorganize, we usually stop at rearranging the boxes on the chart. The odds are high that nothing much will change. We will have chaos, even useful chaos for a while, but eventually the old culture will prevail. Old habit patterns persist.

Book Reviews

"Widely regarded as one of the top management books of all time, "In Search of Excellence" is also one of the books that's influenced me the most." — Forbes

"Peters is an inspiring speaker. His maxim is "If it ain't broke, break it." He champions empowerment of middle management and a ripping up of the rule-books on layered bureaucracy." — The Gateway Online

"Fundamentally, the book urges us to take a more human view of business, to ask questions rather than seek answers. It also encourages a more entrepreneurial approach – highlighting the need to experiment, take risks and seek out revenue-building activities rather than cost-reducing ones." —Director

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Wisdom to Share

An organization chart is not a company, nor a new strategy an automatic answer to corporate grief.

At gut level, all of us know that much more goes into the process of keeping a large organization vital and responsive than the policy statements, new strategies, plans, budgets, and organization charts can possibly depict.

If we want change, we fiddle with the strategy. Or we change the structure. Perhaps the time has come to change our ways.

To become less dependent on government sales, Boeing had to build the skill to its wares in the commercial marketplace, a feat most of its competitors never could pull off.

Such skill building, adding new muscle shucking old habits, getting really good at something new to the culture, is difficult. That sort of thing clearly goes beyond the structure.

The true power of the small group lies in its flexibility. New product teams are formed anywhere at 3M and nobody worries very much about whether or not they fit exactly into division boundaries.

The effective productivity or new product teams in the excellent companies usually from five to ten in size.

The task force reporting level, and the seniority of its members, are proportional to the importance of the problem.

Documentation is informal at most, and often scant.

The reason behind the absence of focus on product or people in so many American companies, it would seem, is the simple presence of a focus on something else.