Tom Peters’ Re-Imagine excellence!



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Clinical versus Statistical Prediction “There is now [1996] a meta-analysis of studies of the comparative efficacy of clinical judgment and actuarial prediction methods. … Of 136 research studies from a wide variety of predictive domains, not more than 5 percent show the clinician’s predictive procedure to be more accurate than a statistical one.” Source: Paul Meehl, Clinical versus Statistical Prediction (1954)

Clinical versus Statistical Prediction “Schiedt showed that 15 of Burgess’ factors (e.g., age, marital status, sobriety), when combined by a simple unweighted addition were about as successful in predicting criminal recidivism in 500 Bavarian ex-prisoners during a four- to six-year followup period as was the judgment of a prison physician.” “ … the clinician, utilizing all this additional information, is no better at forecasting than the statistical clerk …” Source: Paul Meehl, Clinical versus Statistical Prediction (1954)

  • “Unfortunately, Kahneman argues [Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman’s masterpiece Thinking, Fast and Slow], very often our brain is to lazy to think slowly and methodically. Instead, we let the fast way of thinking take over. As a consequence, we often ‘see’ imaginary causalities, and thus fundamentally misunderstand the world.”
  • Source: Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think, by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier

Diverse groups of problem solvers—groups of people with diverse tools—consistently outperformed groups of the best and the brightest. If I formed two groups, one random (and therefore diverse) and one consisting of the best individual performers, the first group almost always did better. … DIVERSITY TRUMPED ABILITY.” —Scott Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow

PLEASE CONSIDER: Multi-month/ continuing Study Group to assess [at a snail’s pace] the impact on day-to-day affairs of the limitations of judgement implied by … Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow

  • Limits: Beware “BIG SCIENCE”
  • 6/53
  • Amgen: With support of original researchers, a ttempts to replicate 53 studies tagged as “landmarks in the basic science of cancer.” Successful replications: 6.
  • (Reported in Nature)
  • NIH exec: “ … hard to reproduce at
  • least three-quarters of all published biomedical studies.”
  • Source: Economist cover story, 1019.13
  • ONE at
  • a Time
  • “If there is any one ‘secret’ to effectiveness, it is concentration. Effective executives do first things first … and they do
  • one thing at a time.” —Peter Drucker

“I used to have a rule for myself that at any point in time I wanted to have in mind — as it so happens, also in writing, on a little card I carried around with me — the three big things I was trying to get done. THREE. Not two. Not four. Not five. Not ten. Three.” — Richard Haass, The Power to Persuade

The “Have you …” 50

“Mapping your competitive position” or …

1. Have you in the last 10 days … VISITED a customer? 2. Have you called a customer … TODAY ?

  • 1. Have you … in the last 10 days … visited a customer?
  • 2. Have you called a customer … TODAY?
  • 3. Have you in the last 60-90 days … had a seminar in which several folks from the customer’s operation (different levels, different functions, different divisions) interacted, via facilitator, with various of your folks?
  • 4. Have you thanked a front-line employee for a small act of helpfulness … in the last three days?
  • 5. Have you thanked a front-line employee for a small act of helpfulness … in the
  • last three hours?
  • 6. Have you thanked a front-line employee for carrying around a great attitude … today?
  • 7. Have you in the last week recognized—publicly—one of your folks for a small act of cross-functional co-operation?
  • 8. Have you in the last week recognized—publicly—one of “their” folks (another function) for a small act of cross-functional co-operation?
  • 9. Have you invited in the last month a leader of another function to your weekly team priorities meeting?
  • 10. Have you personally in the last week-month called-visited an internal or external customer to sort out, inquire, or apologize for some little or big thing that went awry? (No reason for doing so? If true—in your mind—then you’re more out of touch than I dared imagine.)
  • 11. Have you in the last two days had a chat with someone (a couple of levels down?) about specific deadlines concerning a project’s next steps?
  • 12. Have you in the last two days had a chat with someone (a couple of levels down?) about specific deadlines concerning a project’s next steps … and what specifically you can do to remove a hurdle? (“Ninety percent of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get things done.”—Peter “His eminence” Drucker.)
  • 13. Have you celebrated in the last week a “small” (or large!) milestone reached? (I.e., are you a milestone fanatic?)
  • 14. Have you in the last week or month revised some estimate in the “wrong” direction and apologized for making a lousy estimate? (Somehow you must publicly reward the telling of difficult truths.)
  • 15. Have you installed in your tenure a very comprehensive customer satisfaction scheme for all internal customers? (With major consequences for hitting or missing the mark.)
  • 16. Have you in the last six months had a week-long, visible, very intensive visit-“tour” of external customers?
  • 17. Have you in the last 60 days called an abrupt halt to a meeting and “ordered” everyone to get out of the office, and “into the field” and in the next eight hours, after asking those involved, fixed (f-i-x-e-d!) a nagging “small” problem through practical action?
  • 18. Have you in the last week had a rather thorough discussion of a “cool design thing” someone has come across—away from your industry or function—at a Web site, in a product or its packaging?
  • 19. Have you in the last two weeks had an informal meeting—at least an hour long—with a front-line employee to discuss things we do right, things we do wrong, what it would take to meet your mid- to long-term aspirations?
  • 20. Have you had in the last 60 days had a general meeting to discuss “things we do wrong” … that we can fix in the next fourteen days?
  • 1. Have you … in the last 10 days … visited a customer?
  • 2. Have you called a customer … TODAY?
  • 3. Have you in the last 60-90 days … had a seminar in which several folks from the customer’s operation (different levels, different functions, different divisions) interacted, via facilitator, with various of your folks?
  • 4. Have you thanked a front-line employee for a small act of helpfulness … in the last three days?
  • 5. Have you thanked a front-line employee for a small act of helpfulness … in the
  • last three hours?
  • 6. Have you thanked a front-line employee for carrying around a great attitude … today?
  • 7. Have you in the last week recognized—publicly—one of your folks for a small act of cross-functional co-operation?
  • 8. Have you in the last week recognized—publicly—one of “their” folks (another function) for a small act of cross-functional co-operation?
  • 9. Have you invited in the last month a leader of another function to your weekly team priorities meeting?
  • 10. Have you personally in the last week-month called-visited an internal or external customer to sort out, inquire, or apologize for some little or big thing that went awry? (No reason for doing so? If true—in your mind—then you’re more out of touch than I dared imagine.)
  • 11. Have you in the last two days had a chat with someone (a couple of levels down?) about specific deadlines concerning a project’s next steps?
  • 12. Have you in the last two days had a chat with someone (a couple of levels down?) about specific deadlines concerning a project’s next steps … and what specifically you can do to remove a hurdle? (“Ninety percent of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get things done.”—Peter “His eminence” Drucker.)
  • 13. Have you celebrated in the last week a “small” (or large!) milestone reached? (I.e., are you a milestone fanatic?)
  • 14. Have you in the last week or month revised some estimate in the “wrong” direction and apologized for making a lousy estimate? (Somehow you must publicly reward the telling of difficult truths.)
  • 15. Have you installed in your tenure a very comprehensive customer satisfaction scheme for all internal customers? (With major consequences for hitting or missing the mark.)
  • 16. Have you in the last six months had a week-long, visible, very intensive visit-“tour” of external customers?
  • 17. Have you in the last 60 days called an abrupt halt to a meeting and “ordered” everyone to get out of the office, and “into the field” and in the next eight hours, after asking those involved, fixed (f-i-x-e-d!) a nagging “small” problem through practical action?
  • 18. Have you in the last week had a rather thorough discussion of a “cool design thing” someone has come across—away from your industry or function—at a Web site, in a product or its packaging?
  • 19. Have you in the last two weeks had an informal meeting—at least an hour long—with a front-line employee to discuss things we do right, things we do wrong, what it would take to meet your mid- to long-term aspirations?
  • 20. Have you had in the last 60 days had a general meeting to discuss “things we do wrong” … that we can fix in the next fourteen days?
  • 21. Have you had in the last year a one-day, intense offsite with each (?) of your internal customers—followed by a big celebration of “things gone right”?
  • 22. Have you in the last week pushed someone to do some family thing that you fear might be overwhelmed by deadline pressure?
  • 23. Have you learned the names of the children of everyone who reports to you? (If not, you have six months to fix it.)
  • 24. Have you taken in the last month an interesting-weird outsider to lunch?
  • 25. Have you in the last month invited an interesting-weird outsider to sit in on an
  • important meeting?
  • 26. Have you in the last three days discussed something interesting, beyond your industry, that you ran across in a meeting, reading, etc?
  • 27. Have you in the last 24 hours injected into a meeting “I ran across this interesting idea in [strange place]”?
  • 28. Have you in the last two weeks asked someone to report on something, anything that constitutes an act of brilliant service rendered in a “trivial” situation—restaurant, car wash, etc? (And then discussed the relevance to your work.)
  • 29. Have you … in the last 30 days … examined
  • in detail (hour by hour) your calendar to evaluate the degree “time actually spent” mirrors your “espoused priorities”? (And repeated this exercise with everyone on team.)
  • 30. Have you in the last two months had a presentation to the group by a “weird” outsider?
  • 31. Have you in the last two months had a presentation to the group by a customer, internal customer, vendor featuring “working folks” 3 or 4 levels down in the vendor organization?
  • 32. Have you in the last two months had a presentation to the group of a cool, beyond-our-industry ideas by two of your folks?
  • 33. Have you at every meeting today (and forever more) re-directed the conversation to the practicalities of implementation concerning some issue before the group?
  • 34. Have you at every meeting today (and forever more) had an end-of-meeting discussion on “action items to be dealt with in the next 4, 48 hours”? (And then made this list public—and followed up in 48 hours.) And made sure everyone has at least one such item.)
  • 35. Have you had a discussion in the last six months about what it would take to get recognition in local-national poll of “best places to work”?
  • 36. Have you in the last month approved a cool-different training course for one
  • of your folks?
  • 37. Have you … in the last month … taught a front-line training course?
  • 38. Have you in the last week discussed the idea of Excellence? (What it means, how
  • to get there.)
  • 39. Have you in the last week discussed the idea of “Wow”? (What it means, how
  • to inject it into an ongoing “routine” project.)
  • 40. Have you in the last 45 days assessed some major process in terms of the details of the “experience,” as well as results, it provides to its external or internal customers?
  • 41. Have you in the last month had one of your folks attend a meeting you were supposed to go to which gives them unusual exposure to senior folks?
  • 42. Have you in the last 60 (30?) days sat with a trusted friend or “coach” to discuss your “management style”—and its long- and short-term impact on the group?
  • 43. Have you … in the last three days … considered a professional relationship that was a little rocky and made a call to the person involved to discuss issues and smooth the waters? (Taking the “blame,” fully deserved or not, for letting the thing-issue fester.)
  • 44. Have you in the last … two hours … stopped by someone’s (two-levels “down") office-workspace for 5 minutes to ask “What do you think?” about an issue that arose at a more or less just completed meeting? (And then stuck around for 10 or so minutes to listen—and
  • visibly taken notes.)
  • 45. Have you … in the last day … looked around you to assess whether the diversity pretty accurately maps the diversity of the market being served? (And …)
  • 46. Have you in the last day at some meeting gone out of your way to make sure that a normally reticent person was engaged in a conversation—and then thanked him or her, perhaps privately, for their contribution?
  • 47. Have you during your tenure instituted very public (visible) presentations of performance?
  • 48. Have you in the last four months had a session specifically aimed at checking on the “corporate culture” and the degree we are true to it—with all presentations by relatively junior folks, including front-line folks? (And with a determined effort to keep the conversation restricted to “real world” “small” cases—not theory.)
  • 49. Have you in the last six months talked about the Internal Brand Promise?
  • 50. Have you in the last year had a full-day off site to talk about individual (and group) aspirations?



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