978-0-7894-5160-6 / 9780789451606

Business Masterminds: Tom Peters


Publisher:DK ADULT



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About the book:

Tom Peters may be the only management guru who's most famous for being wrong. In Search of Excellence, his bestselling first effort, praised companies like People Express and IBM for their management, but those companies tanked soon after Excellence came out in 1982. Peters quickly reversed course and became one of the harshest critics of the type of management he once described as excellent. Soon he was advocating MBWA (Management By Walking Around), and by the time he wrote Thriving on Chaos in 1987, he was describing ways to make rapid, innovative changes in the way American companies do business.

Robert Heller is harshly critical of Peters's Excellence-era ideas and only mildly scornful of his Chaos precepts. Still, in Business Masterminds: Tom Peters, he manages to come up with "Masterclass" lessons drawn from Peters's works. For example, from Excellence he culls lessons such as "Any remedy is only good for as long as it works; do not become slavishly committed to a modus operandi forever." From Chaos he takes lessons on such topics as getting everyone in an organization involved in change and developing "total customer responsiveness." By the '90s, Peters was exhorting managers to embrace not just chaos, but lunacy. Among the lessons Heller pulls from this stage of Peters's career: "Hire a few genuine off-the-wall types" and "develop small units with their own personalities and disrespectful chiefs." The book concludes with a third Masterclass that is probably the most useful in the slim volume. It shows how to use Peters's latest ideas to make sense of the madness of modern business, in the management of one's own career, and in the running of an organization. Which will have to suffice until Peters changes his mind again about the way companies should be run. --Lou Schuler

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