Annotated master (“the works”) presentation/ Tom Peters’ Re-Imagine excellence!



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The Moral Imperative Redux

CORPORATE MANDATE #1 2014: Your principal moral obligation as a leader is to develop the skillset, “soft” and “hard,” of every one of the people in your charge (temporary as well as semi-permanent) to the maximum extent of your abilities. The good news: This is also the #1 mid- to long-term … profit maximization strategy!

  • A reminder.
  • “The role of the Director is to create a space where the actors and actresses can become more than they’ve ever been before,
  • more than they’ve dreamed of being.”
  • —Robert Altman, Oscar acceptance speech
  • !
  • 0/800

“Normal” = “0 for 800” *There are … ZERO … “normal people” in the history books.

  • We do not live in normal times.*
  • ACT ACCORDINGLY.
  • (That’s my advice.)
  • (*As to the 800, it’s seat of the pants; a standard high school history book is 400 pages long and averages two names per page. Hence, 800 remarkable people in total recognized.)

“INSANELY GREAT” STEVE JOBS “RADICALLY THRILLING” BMW

  • High standards.
  • (Why not?)

“Astonish me!” (Sergei Diaghlev, to a lead dancer) “Build something great!” (Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo, to a senior game designer) “Make it immortal!” (David Ogilvy, to a copywriter).

  • Raise your sights!
  • Blaze new trails!
  • Compete with the immortals!
  • —David Ogilvy, on Ogilvy & Mather’s corporate culture

“Let us create such a building that future generations will take us for lunatics.” —the church hierarchs at Seville, on a prospective cathedral

“We are crazy. We should do something when people say it is ‘crazy.’ If people say something is ‘good’, it means someone else is already doing it.” —Hajime Mitarai, CEO, Canon

“You can’t behave in a calm, rational manner. You’ve got to be out there on the lunatic fringe.” — Jack Welch

“If I had any epitaph that I would rather have more than any other, it would be to say that I had …disturbed the sleep of my generation.” —Adlai Stevenson

“I WANT TO BE THOROUGHLY USED UP WHEN I DIE. … Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” —George Bernard Shaw

“If you ask me what I have come to do in this world, I who am an artist, I will reply: I am here to live my life out loud.” — Émile Zola

  • “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” —G.B. Shaw, Man and Superman: The Revolutionist’s Handbook
  • “Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.” —Peter Drucker

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!

  • Kevin Roberts is CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide—and a good friend.
  • !
  • My company logo (in full).
  • My personal aspiration.

Excellence. Always. If not Excellence, what? If not Excellence now, when?

  • And, of course.
  • This 77-year-old aims to do no less than change the world—beginning with changing dramatically the culture of a 2,000+ year old institution.
  • (And you?)
  • NOTE: In 1985, I gave a 2-day seminar to YPO members in Manhattan. As we moved to close, I asked for feedback. Early on, a chap by the name of Manny Garcia got up to speak—Manny, who became a pal, was one of Burger King’s top franchisees. He began, “I really didn’t hear anything new in the two days”—you could have heard my sharp intake of breath from the back row. He continued, “I’d add that this was probably the best seminar I’ve attended in my many years in business.” Huh? “I’d call it a ‘BLINDING FLASH OF THE OBVIOUS.’ We KNOW all these things—but time and again we fail to relentlessly practice them.” In retrospect, I consider Manny’s feedback to be the best I’ve ever gotten.
  • There will be … GUARANTEED … nothing new in the slides in this set. We know putting people REALLY first translates into mid- to long-term growth and maximized profitability. SO WHY DON’T WE DO IT? We know … GREAT TRAINING … pays for itself 100 times over—in business just much as in sports and the arts. SO WHY DON’T WE DO IT? We know a simple “THANK YOU” is the greatest of all motivators. SO WHY DON’T WE DO IT? And on—and on—it goes.
  • Frankly, I am in a rotten mood. If I was preaching rocket science, and people didn’t “get it,” that’d be one thing. But each point in this section amounts to, beyond doubt, a, yes … BLINDING FLASH OF THE OBVIOUS.
  • Damn it! Let’s get a move on! It is indeed obvious, then … NO EXCUSES!
  • This Is the (OBVIOUS)
  • Stuff I Care About.
  • This Is the (OBVIOUS)
  • Stuff, the Absence of
  • Which Sends Me Into a …
  • BLIND RAGE.
  • Tom Peters/14 May 2014
  • The 34 BFOs*
  • *Blinding Flash(es) of the Obvious
  • BFO #1: If you (RELIGIOUSLY) help people— EVERY SINGLE PERSON, JUNIOR OR SENIOR, LIFER OR TEMP—grow and reach/exceed their perceived potential, then they in turn will bust their individual and collective butts to create great experiences for Clients—and the “bottom line” will get fatter and fatter and fatter. (ANYBODY LISTENING?) (PEOPLE FIRST = MAXIMIZED PROFITABILITY. PERIOD.) (ANYBODY LISTENING?) (FYI: “People FIRST” message 10X more urgent than ever in the high-engagement “AGE OF SOCIAL BUSINESS.”)
  • BFO 2: ENABLING “ALL
  • HANDS” GROWTH/ PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT IS … LEADER DUTY #1.
  • (And ALL good things flow there from.)
  • BFO 3: The “CTO”/Chief Training Officer should (MUST! ) be on a par with the CFO/CMO.
  • TRAINING = INVESTMENT #1.
  • (8 of 10 CEOs see training as an “expense,” not an investment/prime asset booster.) ( “Our training courses are so good they make me want to giggle.” “Our trainers are on the same pay scale as our engineers.” ) (In a 45-minute “tour d’horizon” of the enterprise: GUARANTEE 9 of 10 CEOs* [*10 of 10?] wouldn’t once mention training.
  • THAT = DISGRACE.)
  • BFO 4: OUT-READ ’EM.
  • AGE 17. AGE 77. 2014: READ & GROW … or wilt.
  • (One financial services superstar pegs CEO problem #1: “They don’t read enough.”) STUDENTHOOOD (OBSESSION THEREWITH) (for ALL of us) FOR LIFE!
  • BFO 5: Organizations one & all exist for ONE reason … TO BE OF SERVICE. PERIOD.
  • (And effective leaders in turn are …
  • SERVANT LEADERS. PERIOD.)
  • BFO 6: The … HEART OF THE MATTER (productivity, quality, service, you name it) … is the typically under-attended … FIRST-LINE BOSS. (Your FULL CADRE of 1st-line bosses is arguably … ASSET #1.)
  • BFO 7: WTTMSW. (Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins.) WTTMSASTMSUTFW. (Whoever Tries The Most Stuff And Screws The Most Stuff Up The Fastest Wins.) Practical translation #1: Winning through the Discipline of QUICK PROTOTYPES.
  • READY. FIRE. AIM.
  • Winners:
  • “RELENTLESS EXPERIMENTATION.”
  • “A Bias For Action”: #1 Success Requisite in 1982.
  • “A Bias For Action”: #1 Success Requisite in 2014.
  • .
  • BFO 8: “Fail faster. Succeed sooner.”
  • “FAIL. FORWARD. FAST.”
  • “Fail. Fail again. Fail better.”
  • “REWARD excellent failures. PUNISH mediocre successes.”
  • Book/Farson: “Whoever Makes The Most Mistakes Wins.”
  • We do NOT “accept”/ “tolerate” failures.
  • WE CELEBRATE FAILURES.
  • BFO 9:
  • Excellence is NOT an “aspiration.”
  • Excellence IS the next 5 minutes.
  • (Or not.)
  • BFO 10: Enabling change Rule #1: It’s NOT NOT NOT about “vanquishing [‘ignorant’] foes.” It’s ALL ALL ALL about RELENTLESSLY seeking & recruiting & nurturing … ALLIES.
  • BFO 11: The Gospel of “SMALL WINS.” You and your Allies cobbble together a skein of successful trials (“small wins”); momentum around this portfolio of demos more important than any high-investment Big Victory. (ALLLIES + SMALL WINS + MOMENTUM = UNSTOPPABLE.)
  • BFO 12: Year = 220 LUNCHES. WASTE NOT ONE. Cross-functional SNAFUs #1 problem for most orgs. Software … WILL NOT … fix it. ONLY … “Social Stuff” works—e.g., makin’ pals in other functions; LUNDH = Strategy #1.
  • Goal: XFX/Cross-Functional Excellence … or die trying. Requisite: DAILY/RELENTLESS ATTENTION & ALL-HANDS-ALL-THE-TIME ENGAGEMENT.
  • BFO 13: In Search of Excellence in 6 words: “Hard is soft. Soft is Hard.” (E.g., Numbers are the “soft stuff”—witness the crash. Solid relationships/ integrity/trust/teamwork = True “hard stuff.”)
  • Strategy is important.
  • Systems are important.
  • CULTURE is … MORE IMPORTANT.
  • (Serious change = Tackling the culture. PERIOD.)
  • (In his autobiography, even “Mr. Analysis,” Lou Gerstner, IBM turnaround CEO, reluctantly acknowledged culture’s unequivocal primacy in the big-change-game.)
  • BFO 14: We Are What We Eat = WE ARE WHO WE HANG OUT WITH. (“Hang out with ‘cool’ and thou shalt become more cool. Hang out with ‘dull’ and thou shalt become more dull.”)
  • RELIGIOUSLY-CONSCIOUSLY MANAGE “HANG OUT.” EVERY “hang out decision” (employees/customers/ vendors/consultants/lunch mates/board composition/ locale/etc.) is a … STRATEGIC INNOVATION DECISION.
  • (Diversity [ON ANY DIMENSION YOU CAN NAME] an imperative in confusing times.)
  • (Hire for … CURIOSITY. EXPLICITLY.)
  • BFO 15: Apple market cap surpasses Exxon Mobil.
  • Why? D-E-S-I-G-N. Are YOU obsessed by … DESIGN? (In EVERY nook and cranny of EVERY tiny or humongous enterprise—and in your own professional affairs.) (DESIGN is an instinctive STATE OF MIND as well as a set of practices.) (Less than EXCELLENCE in functionality = Unacceptable.)
  • (Less than SUPER-COOL aesthetics = Unacceptable.)
  • BFO 16: LBT/TGR MULTIPLIER POWER. Ceaselessly seek the LBTs/ Little BIG Things.
  • “Small stuff” … BIG Impact: Walmart increases (mere) shopping basket size, small appliance sales up 50%. Reducing TGWs/Things Gone Wrong invaluable. BUT … put at least as much effort into remorselessly accumulating TGRs/THINGS GONE RIGHT.
  • (E.g. Disney’s OBSESSION with a memorable Start & Finish courtesy … PARKING LOT EXCELLENCE.)
  • BFO 17:
  • WOMEN BUY EVERYTHING.
  • WOMEN ARE THE MOST EFFECTIVE LEADERS.
  • WOMEN ARE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL INVESTORS.
  • (Does your organization … UNMISTAKABLY … reflect these immutable truths from stem to stern?) (“This will be the women’s century.” —Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil, opening address U.N. General Assembly)
  • BFO 18: KEEP ADDING VALUE.
  • IBM To IBM: Machine dominance to Business Services dominance. UPS to UPS: delivering Parcels to Managing Logistics Systems.
  • (EVERYONE’s game: “Customer SATISFACTION” to “Systemic customer SOLUTIONS”)
  • BFO 19: Forget B-I-G. (100% of biggies UNDER-perform long-term.) Instead build national wealth around … “MITTELSTAND” companies—MIDSIZE SUPERSTAR NICHE-/MICRO-NICHE DOMINATORS —in ANY category you can name. (C.f., Germany’s Mittelstand worldbeaters--#1 global exporter for years.) (Battle cry: “BE THE BEST. IT’S THE ONLY MARKET THAT’S NOT CROWDED.” WHY ELSE BOTHER?)
  • (FYI: ANYTHING/EVERYTHING subject to MIND-BOGGLING ADDED-VALUE/ DIFFERENTIATION.
  • (BANISH the word … “commodity.”)
  • BFO 20: The problem is RARELY the problem. The lackluster RESPONSE to the problem is invariably the real problem. Answer? Slavishly adhere to these two response commandments: LIGHTENING-FAST RESPONSE OVERKILL. UNEQUIVOCAL QUICK-TIME APOLOGY.
  • BFO 21: What do people (MOST) desire—including thee and me? ACKNOWLEDGEMENT.
  • So: Show your appreciation … BIG TIME/ALL THE TIME. (Track it … RELIGIOUSLY!) (“Acknowledgement” is … THE MOST POWERFUL WORD IN THE LEADER’S VOCABULARY.)
  • BFO 22: The two most powerful words in the English language are?
  • No contest: “THANK YOU.”
  • (ACT ACCORDINGLY—e.g., OBSESSIVELY.)
  • BFO 23: Have you done your MBWA/ Managing By Wandering Around … TODAY? If not, why not? (Hint: There are … ZERO ACCEPTABLE EXCUSES.)
  • BFO 24: Your CALENDAR knows your TRUE priorities.
  • Do YOU?
  • You … ARE … your calendar.
  • Your calendar … NEVER LIES.
  • (Drucker: Best bosses do ONE thing at a Time)
  • BFO 25: What is the individual’s/organization’s #1 enduring strategic asset? Easy: ASSET #1 = INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE EXCELLENCE AT …
  • L-I-S-T-E-N-I-N-G. (Listening can be … TAUGHT. Listening PER SE is a … PROFESSION. Are YOU a “stellar professional listener”? THINK ABOUT IT. PLEASE.)
  • BFO 26:
  • LEADERSHIP is not about ABSTRACTIONS.
  • LEADERSHIP is about … MASTERING DISCREET SKILLS.
  • E.g.:
  • “Aggressive ‘professional’ listener.”
  • Meetings as leadership opportunity #1.
  • Creating a “civil society.”
  • Expert at “helping.” (Helping “professional.”)
  • Expert at holding productive conversations.
  • Fanatic about clear communications.
  • Fanatic about training.
  • Master of appreciation/acknowledgement.
  • Effective at apology.
  • Creating a culture of automatic helpfulness by all to all.
  • Presentation excellence.
  • Conscious master of body language.
  • Master of hiring. (Hiring “professional”)
  • Master of evaluating people.
  • Avid practitioner of MBWA/Managing By Wandering Around.
  • Avid student of the process of influencing others per se.
  • Student of decision-making/devastating impact of irrational aspects thereof.
  • Creating a no-nonsense execution culture.
  • Meticulous about employee development/100% of staff.
  • Student of the power of “d”iversity (all flavors of difference).
  • Aggressive in pursuing gender balance.
  • Making team-building excellence everyone’s daily priority.
  • Understanding value of matchless 1st-line management.
  • BFO 27: Aim to make EVERY internal and external experience (PRODUCT/ SERVICE/SYSTEM/EMPLOYEE INTERACTION/CUSTOMER INTERACTION/ COMMUNITY INTERACTION) a … WOW! (WOW = WOW. USE THE “W-WORD” PER SE!
  • E.g., Do 4 out of your Top 5 projects score 8 or above on a 10-point“WOW Scale”?
  • If not, get on it:
  • NOW.
  • TODAY.
  • WITHIN THE HOUR.
  • WOW-ify!
  • WOW Now.)
  • BFO 28: While on the topic of … WOW:
  • White collar work is by and large ticketed to fall prey to artificial intelligence/eye-popping algorithms as well as globalization. Stand there and take it on the chin?
  • NO.
  • My answer/1999 book/The Professional Service Firm 50:
  • CONVERT EVERY “DEPARTMENT”/ “UNIT” [AND YOURSELF] INTO A FULL-FLEDGED … “PSF”/PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRM … WHOLLY DEDICATED TO … EXCELLENCE & WOW & ADDING SKYSCRAPING VALUE TO THEIR/ YOUR CUSTOMERS’ [USUALLY INTERNAL CUSTOMERS] ACTIVITIES.
  • Why not?
  • There is no good reason not to proceed in this direction within the fortnight!
  • BFO 29: EVERY DAY PROVIDES A DOZEN (LITERALLY) LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES FOR EVERY ONE OF US. (Every = EVERY. From the most junior—and even the 3-day temp—to the Big Dudes.)
  • GRAB AT LEAST ONE.
  • BFO 30: Circa 2014+: You (me/all of us) totally misunderstand overall econ context if you choose not to start today on … RPD/Radical Personal Development.
  • BFO 31: CIVILITY WORKS. CIVILITY PAYS.
  • E.g.: K = R = P.
  • Kindness =
  • Repeat business =
  • Profit.
  • (ONE MORE TIME: “Kindness” is N-O-T “Soft.”)
  • BFO 32: Most of us/most organizations discount … INTROVERTS. THAT IS A … 1ST ORDER STRATEGIC BLUNDER. (Please read Susan Cain’s book QUIET. It was a no-bull lifechanger for me.)
  • BFO 33: Listen (HARD) to my old D.C. boss, Fred Malek:
  • “EXECUTION IS STRATEGY.”
  • (Kelleher/Southwest: “We have a ‘strategic plan.’ DOING THINGS.”) (Welch/GE: “In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. Pick a general direction … AND IMPLEMENT LIKE HELL.” ) (Charles Munger, Berkshire Hathaway: “Costco figured out the big, simple things and executed with total fanaticism.” ) (Execution: That all-important … “LAST 99 PERCENT.” )
  • BFO 34: The Works …
  • SEGEW 2014: SERVICE!-ENGAGEMENT!-GROWTH!-EXCELLENCE!-WOW!
  • Employees as 1st customers
  • Acknowledgement & Respect
  • Commitment to Personal Growth & Training-to-Die-For
  • Engagement
  • Work Worth Doing
  • Peerless 1st-line Leadership Cadre Committed to Employee Growth
  • MBWA Obsession
  • Seamless Cross-functional Excellence
  • 360-degree “Social” Engagement Inside & Outside the Firm
  • Co-creation of Everything
  • A Moral Service Ethos
  • (Each other/Vendors/Customers/Customers’ Customers/Communities)
  • An Ethos of Helping (“On the Bus” or “Off the Bus”)
  • Scintillating Design—Aesthetics & Functionality—Pervades Every
  • Aspect of the Business (Inside & Outside)
  • Provision of Extraordinary Customer (& Employee) Experiences
  • Obsession With TGRs/Things Gone Right
  • Matchless Quality
  • “Services Added”/Extended-Integrated-Partnered Solutions
  • to Broad Customer Needs
  • Relentless Experimentation (“Bias for Action”/Instant Prototyping/
  • Celebration of “Excellent Failures”/Transparency/
  • Pursuit of “Multipliers”)
  • JOY! (In All We Do)
  • GROWTH! (In All We Do)
  • WOW! (In All We Do)
  • EXCELLENCE! (In All We Do)


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