Tom Peters’ EXCELLENCE. ALWAYS.Talent.Leadership.The Talent 57/13 November 2008
NOTE:To appreciate this presentation [and ensure that it is not a mess], you need Microsoft fonts:“Showcard Gothic,”“Ravie,”“Chiller”and“Verdana”
Organizations exist to serve. Period. Leaders live to serve. Period.
This is the critical contextual point. Every organizational entity exists only to serve. To serve its members, who in turn do something of use for others called customers, the community, etc. This “model” applies equally to baseball teams and accounting departments serving other internal departments and restaurants and Girl Scout troops. In turn, leaders’ only principal role is to serve (provide growth opportunities, etc.) those who are in turn being of service.
Why in the World did you go to Siberia?
Speech in Novosibirsk in the late Spring of 2006. The view from my Air Siberia plane as we approached.
Enterprise* ** (*at its best):An emotional, vital, innovative, joyful, creative, entrepreneurial endeavor that elicits maximum concerted human potential in the wholeheartedservice of others.****Employees, Customers, Suppliers, Communities, Owners, Temporary partners
I was among the first (the first, probably) of the gurus to make this journey—and I felt an immense obligation to spell out the possibilities as I saw them. These words are meant to be taken literally—how, in fact, could there be any other serious aspiration?
Organizations exist to serve. Period. Leaders live to serve. Period. Passionate servant leaders, determined to create a legacy of earthshaking transformation in their domaincreate/must necessarily create organizations which are …no less than “Cathedrals” in which the full and awesome power of the Imagination and Spirit and native Entrepreneurial flairof diverse individualsis unleashed … In passionate pursuit of jointly perceived soaring purposeand personal and community and client service Excellence.
no less than “Cathedrals” in which the full and awesome power of the Imagination and Spirit and native Entrepreneurial flair of diverse individuals is unleashed
I was flattered to be asked to keynote the first major conference celebrating Peter Drucker’s life work. It took place in Sydney, and was organized by the Australian Institute of Management. I fretted ceaselessly, or so it felt, for weeks. Drucker’s work was more, far more, than brilliant insights. As a refugee from totalitarianism, he was interested in organizational arrangements that would contribute to the stability and progress of civilization. At any rate, it “got me thinking.” And in a direction that was novel for me. Though far more explanation is required, suffice it to say that I am attaching as Appendix ONEa subset of slides from the AIM event that capture my beliefs about the high potential of enterprises of all sorts. Yes, “cathedrals” dedicated to human development occurs/is meant to occur which contagiously spreads to associated communities (customers, etc). This is obvious when it is your child’s fourth grade classroom, but holds equally to the furniture maker’s shop in Pawlet, Vermont—or the logistics department in the factory down the road.
"We all start out in life loving our fathers and mothers above everything else in the world, but that does not close the doors of love. That prepares us to love our wives and husbands and children and friends and to cooperate with and show respect to all worthy individuals with whom we come in contact or have an opportunity to reach in other ways. We must apply that to nations and to other businesses. "We in IBM must not confine our thoughts just to IBM. We must extend our cooperation to all other businesses whether we do business with them or not. We are one cog in the industrial wheel. "Then as citizens we must extend our respect to all worthy people in all nations. We are moving along in troublesome times, but the love of these various things of which I have spoken and of the people in whom we are interested is going to be the great force which will make us all appreciate the spiritual values which constitute the only solid foundation on which we can build." Thomas J. Watson, Sr. address to IBM Sales and Service Class 525 and Customer Engineers Class 528, IBM Country Club, Endicott, NY, October 30, 1941
My goal here is to get you to read this slowly and absorb its flavor. Watson was the legendary leader who, principally through the provision of peerless and unprecedented service excellence (more than product), took IBM to Olympian and sustaining success in the 60s through the 80s. The construction of the ideal IBM began decades before—and the encompassing, almost religious view of the firm is extraordinary—and, by the by, uttered just 38 days before Pearl Harbor. (Mr Watson was often criticized at the time, because, even though IBM was relatively small, he had taken on international markets with unusual vigor—including some that were quite unsavory.) Watson's two favorite words were “think” and “excellence.” IBM stood out from the herd in 1982, at the time of the publication of In Search of Excellence, as much or even more than GE did 20 years later.)(To offer a flavor of IBM’s practices at the time, a salesman was fired if he was caught in any way criticizing a competitor’s product. On the service side, Watson, in a small but symbolically important gesture, was the first to insist that his field service people wear ties.)
Cause(worthy of commitment)Space(room for/encouragement for initiative)Decency(respect, humane)
Cause(worthy of commitment)Space(room for/encouragement for initiative-adventures) Decency(respect, grace, integrity, humane)service(worthy of our clients’ & extended family’s continuing custom)excellence (period) servant leadership
“I have always believed that the purpose of the corporation is to be a blessing to the employees.”—Boyd Clarke (Boyd was the president of the Tom Peters Company for several years until his untimely death, at age 51, in 2006)
Enthusiasm!(Matchless and internally and externally contagious and visible energy and vitality.)Execution!(A bulldog, unglamorous effort aimed at GTD/“getting things done” is the Holy Grail and principal source of pride—the “strategy bit” is secondary to the “do it” bit.)Experience!(The organization delivers its product—including accounting services from an internal department to its customer departments—with panache.)Empathy! (Despite the abiding emphasis on hustle and GTD, Character and Care in all we do is an equal hallmark of the enterprise.)Excellence!(Head-turning aspirations from the world-class busboy to the world-class chef to the world-class parking valet.)
Kevin Roberts’ Credo*1. Ready. Fire! Aim.2. If it ain’t broke ... Break it!3. Hire crazies.4. Ask dumb questions.5. Pursue failure.6. Lead, follow ... or get out of the way!7. Spread confusion.8. Ditch your office.9. Read odd stuff.10.Avoid moderation!*Roberts is the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide
The greatest dangerfor most of usis not that our aim istoo highand we miss it,but that it istoo lowand we reach it.Michelangelo
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting‘GERONIMO!’ ” —Bill McKenna, professional motorcycle racer (Cycle magazine 02.1982)
When it comes to Leadership Excellence, the tools may be different, but the Principles and Practices are decidedly timeless. (Period.)
I use a local example from, alas, 7-11. A big hunk of change was spent on physical upgrading at a store near me, but it was indeed “pissed away.” The store looked much better but the staff attitude remained, well, awful.
Attitude beats capital improvements—spend the bucks on the people, not (or more than) the plywood. Review your budget upon completion (the point at which you momentarily lock it down). Having given it your very best shot, immediately cut the capital budget by 15%--and put the entire sum into people programs.
Faced with the current crisis, the Container Store doubled, rather than cut, as most would do, the training budget for front line employees. The CEO said that now, more than ever, the employees need to induce remaining customers to purchase!
“You have to treat your employees like customers.”—Herb Kelleher, complete answer, upon being asked his “secrets to success” Source: Joe Nocera, NYT, “Parting Words of an Airline Pioneer,” on the occasion of Herb Kelleher’s retirement after 37 years at Southwest Airlines (SWA’s pilots union took out a full-page ad in USA Today thanking HK for all he had done; across the way in Dallas American Airlines’ pilots were picketing the Annual Meeting)
The Customer Comes Second: Put Your People First and Watch ’Em kick butt —Hal Rosenbluth and Diane McFerrin Peters (no relation—be delighted if she was)
Consistent with the idea that underscoring Brand Inside is the best way to keep the ocean deep & blue, the Sole Secret (he says) of Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher is putting his people First—making them his principal customers. The likes of Dave Liniger (RE/MAX founder) and Hal Rosenbluth (superstar boss of travel giant Rosenbluth International) spout and live this same idea, using practically the same words—e.g., Hal’s book Putting the Customer Second.
“Managing By Wandering Around,” the HP credo that Bob Waterman came upon in 1978. Its literal and metaphorical meaning came to epitomize what we learned in our research and then tried to convey in In Search of Excellence. Never forget the Eternal Basics!Stay in constant touch with reality—and the people who do the work.An explication of this “obvious” idea, so often honored in the breach, is offered at Appendix TWO.
“Tom, let me tell you the definition of a good lending officer. After church on Sunday, on the way home with his family, he takes a little detour to drive by the factory he just lent money to. Doesn’t go in or any such thing, just drives by and takes a look.”
A bank CEO (mid-size bank) shared this insight with me 20 years ago. A failure to practice this “obvious” “basic” is , in the end, at the heart of the subprime mess—and global financial meltdown, circa 2008.
Excellence1982: The Bedrock “Eight Basics” 1. A Bias for Action 2. Close to the Customer 3. Autonomy and Entrepreneurship 4. Productivity Through People 5. Hands On, Value-Driven 6. Stick to the Knitting 7. Simple Form, Lean Staff 8. Simultaneous Loose-Tight Properties”