5.0 out of 5 stars Stood the Test of Time
This book was written 22 years ago (in 1982) and seems to have stood the test of time. In fact, the business 'ingredients' delineated in this book have been demonstrated in many major corporations since the book was first published.
Essentially the book hinges on 8 basic principles. If any business can put these 8 basic principles into practice, Peters and Waterman say...
Published on April 2 2004 by T. B. Vick
3.0 out of 5 stars Management as Science
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,...
Published on Dec 27 2000 by Walter Nicolau
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stood the Test of Time,
This review is from: In Search Of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies (Paperback)This book was written 22 years ago (in 1982) and seems to have stood the test of time. In fact, the business 'ingredients' delineated in this book have been demonstrated in many major corporations since the book was first published.
Essentially the book hinges on 8 basic principles. If any business can put these 8 basic principles into practice, Peters and Waterman say that business can not help but succeed. Now the success may not be as large as Microsoft, but success will occur at one level or the other. If you do not agree then that is fine, Peters and Waterman give several examples of small business that became huge business on the basis of these 8 principles (e.g. Walmart, Hewlett-Packard, Delta Airlines, McDonald's, IBM, etc.). In fact, when you read the book (which is actually structured around describing and demonstrating these 8 principles) you will see why and how these principles actually work.
One of the most interesting things I found in this book was the fact that the 8 principles are essentially common sense ingredients. For lack of better way to describe them, 'boy scout' type principles that can be incorporated into business action on an every day basis.
The book itself is very interesting, easy to read (even if you are not very interested in reading about businesses, business growth and management, etc.) and easy to understand. There are some great business stories about customers, business action, business men and their thinking, etc. Chapter 4 is quite theoretically and somewhat difficult to wade through, but has some great insights on management, measuring earnings, business theories and strategies, and how culture plays a part in business growth based on a businesses values in relation to the culture as opposed to a business values in relation to just making money.
This is one of the better business books I have read in a long while and I do recommend it for anyone who is about to start a business, who actually own a business, or for anyone who merely love reading business books.
2.0 out of 5 stars Ahead of its time, but a little behind ours,
As an example of a mistaken oversimplification, the book claims that "rationality" always yields negative, i.e. pessimistic, business forecasts, but this fails to understand that projections are guided by assumptions, that in turn are guided by management. Companies that penalize those whose forecasts are too optimistic will encourage its planners to use negative assumptions. Companies that don't, won't.
Many of the "excellent companies" have seen very bad times or were driven out of business completely in the years following the book's release. I think that shows that the authors were missing quite a bit in understanding the real nature of excellence. Fortunately, in subsequent years authors such as John Case (Open-Book Management) and Jack Stack (The Great Game of Business) have hit upon a much simpler yet more complete model for excellence. Not only does their model explain what is correct about The Search for Excellence, but it also explains the correct elements in many management ideas since including "reengineering", "TQM", "Empowerment", and "Six Sigma". I highly recommend their books instead of this one.
5.0 out of 5 stars The search continues,
This review is from: In Search Of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies (Paperback)I read this book again after a gap of nearly 20 years. The world has significantly changed since then and so have the fortunes of many of the "excellent" companies listed in this book. Some have continued to excel, some have made a comeback after facing tough times and some have ceased to exist. Excellence is neither permanent nor an assurance for "lived happily thereafter" ending for a corporate fable. As often mentioned in most management books, the only thing that is permanent is change, and change has been rapid and unforgiving in the last two decades. In this context, is this one time business bestseller flawed in its study and its findings ?. The authors themselves answer this question in their opening remarks - "Authors' Note: Excellence 2003" in this new paperback edition.
Theory first. There is a solid attack on the Rational Model ( over emphasis on quantitative approaches to management ) in American business schools which the authors feel is a main cause for the decline of American companies in the third quarter of the twentieth century. The understanding of the human side and aligning people with the Organization's goals through a deep sense of respect and involvement is at the core of success at the excellent companies is the next hypothesis. In their search for excellence, the research leads to eight prominent attributes that are common across the best run companies. All these attributes have direct and significant link to this aspect of the human side of enterprise.
The excellent companies have focussed consciously and consistently on rigorously practicing several of the eight attributes. Failure to focus on these have led to setbacks in subsequent years. An outstanding athlete cannot be expected to win gold at all the Olympics in his lifetime. Athletes age and so do companies say the authors. But is there a prescription against aging for companies that are committed to excellence ?
This book is liable for criticism on the following counts :
- Too much of theory in the first four chapters, mostly borrowed from other earlier management gurus
Several books have been written on this topic since this classic was first published in 1982. Many have addressed the points listed above. But this ground breaking book continues to be the pathfinder in all that has followed. Go back to the analogy of the athlete. A gold is a gold at any contest and this book deserves one for its own excellence.
4.0 out of 5 stars Still relevant today,
This review is from: In Search Of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies (Paperback)Even though Tom Peters admitted in a Fast Company article that some of the data in the book was faked, I still think it is worth reading because it discusses some key concepts. Ideas such as sticking to what you're best at, achieving productivity through people, and being close to the customer are simple, timeless, and most certainly worth studying.
Some argue that several of the companies that were deemed by the study to be excellent back then are no longer excellent and therefore that hurts the credibility of the book. It's a valid point to an extent but history is full of examples of companies that were once great and then faltered for whatever reason. The key is to figure out what the best companies are doing while they are on top and the book discusses this.
One part of the book I didn't like was the initial part of it where they discuss a lot of historical management theory. If the book were published today, I seriously doubt any editor would let them include that part since it's not very readable. Personally, I don't want to have to weed through too many boring parts before I get to the good material.
In summary, I feel "In Search of Excellence" is by far the best Tom Peters book in print and worth reading.
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic whose lessons still offer benefits,
This review is from: In Search Of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies (Paperback)It is hard to appreciate the impact this book had when it was first released. Some of the cases (business stories) it contains still inspire although some seem a bit dated, but the underlying ideas retain some power if you take time to think about them. As the authors say in the new preface, this is a book about attributes rather than specific recommendations for action. I like their response to those who point out that many of the companies included have since fallen on hard times. They point out that we still learn the past accomplishments of great athletes no longer in their prime.
I think the best points the book makes involve the way people react under pressure in pulling back to numbers, research, and rationality in ways that won't help them. Numbers, research, and rationality are all extremely important, but will not in themselves enable you to innovate and see new ways to compete. Although this isn't in the book, I love the story about the driver side door for the minivans. Chrysler stole the march on that and when one of their competitors was asked why they didn't come out with such an obvious innovation he responded that none of the customers in their focus groups asked for such a feature. Game, set, and match for Peters and Waterman.
This is a book that should still be read. It has a lot more to offer than many business books being printed today at great cost to our forests and our precious time. This is still a keeper.
2.0 out of 5 stars Some good info, but not worth a buy,
Moreover, as others have pointed out some(all?) of the information in the book is NOT based on real data. This casts a shaddow of doubt over the entire book.
In short, the book may be worth a glance if you can get the book real cheap, but in my humble opinion north worth buying.
2.0 out of 5 stars You're Better of Reading "In Search of Stupidity",
It made some excellent points that people should know. For instance, the data in Excellence is faked; "Stupidity" reprints the Busines Week article in which Peter's admits this. Once I read that, I had a hard time taking Excellence seriously.
In Search of Stupidity also points out that practically *all* of the high tech companies Excellence profiles either failed or had major financial problems. In my opinion, the book is a much better look at the real world problems that face companies than Excellence.
5.0 out of 5 stars The book that launched a genre,
The book starts with an introduction explaining the problems in the economy (this was the early 80s, when fear of Japan Inc was rising) and why this abstract concept of "Excellence" was needed. In many senses, the book's emphasis of "What's Right in the US" is really it's strongest selling point. In the context of a world where America seemed to be losing it's way, the book provides a rallying cry for places that America is doing things right.
The book the passionately covers general management caveats, such as "Stick to your knitting" with examples of companies providing extensive focus on their core competencies. It is important to note that Tom Peters does not claim to be a great management theorist here - his claim is to capture examples of companies who have figured out "how to be excellent". This is consistent with his academic training - an engineering background with a Phd in Organizational Behavior. He's not developing new business models here, only capturing what others already know to be true.
So how does it hold up over time?
Bottom line - The book is still valid. Closeness to customers is still as important as ever. Companies are learning they do need to stick to their knitting. This is a very entertaining and influential book. It's worth reading for the insights, as well as the chance that your customer has read it too. :-)
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Prequel to Built to Last,
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Practice,
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In Search Of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies by Thomas Peters (Paperback - Feb. 19 2004)
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