Tom Peters’ Re-Imagine excellence!



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Tom’s TIB* #1: 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! * This I Believe (courtesy Bill caudill)

  • Innovation:
  • WTTMSW Plus …

1/47 (No kidding)

Lesson47: WTTMSW

  • WHOEVER
  • TRIES
  • THE
  • MOST
  • STUFF
  • WINS

READY. FIRE! AIM. H. Ross Perot (vs “Aim! Aim! Aim!” /EDS vs GM/1985)

“The first EDSer to see a snake kills it. At GM, the first thing you do is organize a committee on snakes. Then you bring in a consultant who knows a lot about snakes. Third thing you do is talk about it for a year.” —H. Ross Perot, EDS founder, former GM board member

  • “What are Rutan’s management rules? He insists he doesn’t have any. ‘I don’t like rules,’ he says. ‘Things are so easy to change if you don’t write them down.’ Rutan feels good management works in much the same way good aircraft design does: Instead of trying to figure out the best way to do something and sticking to it, just try out an approach and keep fixing it.”
  • —Eric Abrahamson & David Freedman, Chapter 8, “Messy Leadership,” from A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder
  • “We made mistakes, of course. Most of them were omissions we didn’t think of when we initially wrote the software. We fixed them by doing it over and over, again and again. We do the same today. While our competitors are still sucking their thumbs trying to make the design perfect, we’re already on prototype version #5. By the time our rivals are ready with wires and screws, we are on version #10. It gets back to planning versus acting: We act from day one; others plan how to planfor months.” —Bloomberg by Bloomberg
  • “DEMO
  • OR DIE!”
  • Source: This was the approach championed by Nicholas Negroponte which vaulted his MIT Media Lab to the forefront of IT-multimedia innovation. It was his successful alternative to the traditional
  • MIT-academic “publish or perish.” Negroponte’s rapid-prototyping version was emblematic of the times and the pace and the enormity
  • of the opportunity. (NYTimes/0426.11)

Culture of Prototyping “Effective prototyping may be THE MOST VALUABLE CORE COMPETENCE an innovative organization can hope to have.” —Michael Schrage

Think about It!? Innovation = Reaction to the Prototype Source: Michael Schrage

“You can’t be a serious innovator unless and until you are ready, willing and able to seriously play. ‘Serious play’ is not an oxymoron; it is the essence of innovation.” —Michael Schrage, Serious Play

  • “I’ve concluded that 3-D printing could potentially put us out of business.
  • So I went out and bought three of
  • them [3-D printers] and asked my engineers to spend at least 10% of their time playing with them —getting a feel for the technology and its applications. We may be able to turn this threat into a significant advantage.” —CEO, mid-sized VERY high-tech company, New England

“EXPERIMENT FEARLESSLY” Source: BusinessWeek, “Type A Organization Strategies: How to Hit a Moving Target”—Tactic #1 “RELENTLESS TRIAL AND ERROR” Source: Wall Street Journal, cornerstone of effective approach to “rebalancing” company portfolios in the face of changing and uncertain global economic conditions (11.08.10)

  • “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Quality is a probabilistic function of quantity.”

“The difference between Bach and his forgotten peers isn’t necessarily that he had a better ratio of hits to misses. The difference is that the mediocre might have a dozen ideas, while Bach, in his lifetime, created more than a thousand full-fledged musical compositions. A genius is a genius, psychologist Paul Simonton maintains, because he can put together such a staggering number of insights, ideas, theories, random observations, and unexpected connections that he almost inevitably ends up with something great. ‘Quality,’ Simonton writes, ‘is a probabilistic function of quantity.’” —Malcolm Gladwell, “Creation Myth,” New Yorker, 0516.11

New Ballgame

  • “The ecosystem used to funnel lots of talented
  • people into a few clear winners. Now it’s funneling lots of talented people into lots of experiments.”
  • —Tyler Willis, business developer, to Nathan Heller in “Bay Watched:
  • How San Francisco’s New Entrepreneurial Culture Is
  • Changing the Country,” The New Yorker, 1014.13

Pruning Lessons

“Rose gardeners face a choice every spring. The long-term fate of a rose garden depends on this decision. If you want to have the largest and most glorious roses of the neighborhood, you will prune hard. This represents a policy of low tolerance and tight control. You force the plant to make the maximum use of its available resources, by putting them into the the rose’s ‘core business.’ Pruning hard is a dangerous policy in an unpredictable environment. Thus, if you are in a spot where you know nature may play tricks on you, you may opt for a policy of high tolerance. You will never have the biggest roses, but you have a much-enhanced chance of having roses every year. You will achieve a gradual renewal of the plant. In short, tolerant pruning achieves two ends: (1) It makes it easier to cope with unexpected environmental changes. (2) It leads to a continuous restructuring of the plant. The policy of tolerance admittedly wastes resources—the extra buds drain away nutrients from the main stem. But in an unpredictable environment, this policy of tolerance makes the rose healthier in the long run.” —Arie De Geus, The Living Company




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