Tom Peters’ Re-Imagine excellence!

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“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.”

Decentralization vs Centralization = “That’s All There Is” (from childrearing 101 to the Federalist Papers to Org.2012)

“Can do”

Captain “Yes.” Captain “No.”


  • “This is so simple it sounds stupid, but it is amazing how few oil people really understand that YOU ONLY FIND OIL IF YOU DRILL WELLS. You may think you’re finding it when you’re drawing maps and studying logs, but you have to drill.”
  • Source: The Hunters, by John Masters,
  • wildly successful Canadian Oil & Gas wildcatter
  • Screw it.
  • Just do it.
  • —book title, Richard Branson
  • DO SOMETHING.            
  • Source: Locker room sign posted by NFL
  • football coach Bill Parcells

“ … almost inhuman disinterestedness in strategy” —Josiah Bunting on U.S. Grant (from Ulysses S. Grant)

U. S. Grant *No interest in grand strategy. *Do the thing until it is done. *Do not over complicate. *Do the next thing. *Pleasure in perseverance per se. *Not ask for help or advice. *Not complain of difficulties or ask for more time or resources McClellan: delay; plead for more forces Grant: “When do I start? What I want is to advance.” Source: Josiah Bunting, Ulysses S. Grant

  • Relentless: “One of my superstitions had always been when I started to go anywhere or to do anything, not to turn back , or stop, until the thing intended was accomplished.” —Grant

Relentless: “One of my superstitions had always been when I started to go anywhere, or to do anything, not to turn back, or stop, until the thing intended was accomplished. I have frequently started to go places where I had never been and to which I did not know the way, depending upon making inquiries along the road. And if I got past the place without knowing it, I would not turn back but instead go on until a road was found turning in the right direction, take that, and come in on the other side.” —U.S. Grant


“FAIL. FORWARD. FAST.” High Tech CEO, Pennsylvania

“If people tell me they skied all day and never fell down, I tell them to try a different mountain.” —Michael Bloomberg (BW/0625.07)

“No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” —Samuel Beckett

REWARD excellent failures. PUNISH mediocre successes.” —Phil Daniels, Sydney exec

Richard Farson & Ralph Keyes: Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins: The Paradox of Innovation

  • On NELSON: “[other] admirals more frightened of losing than anxious to win”
  • "A man's errors are his portals of discovery." —James Joyce
  • THE
  • MOST
  • AND
  • THE
  • MOST
  • UP
  • THE
  • WINS

Pursuing Inefficiency

“The secret of fast progress is inefficiency, fast and furious and numerous failures.” —Kevin Kelly

“The Silicon Valley of today is built less atop the spires of earlier triumphs than upon the rubble of earlier debacles.” —Paul Saffo

“Active mutators in placid times tend to die off. They are selected against. Reluctant mutators in quickly changing times are also selected against.” —Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

“Natural selection is death. ... Without huge amounts of death, organisms do not change over time. ... Death is the mother of structure. ... It took four billion years of death ... to invent the human mind ...”The Cobra Event

“If things seem under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” —Mario Andretti

  • “The essence
  • of capitalism is encouraging failure, not rewarding success.” —Nassim Nicholas Taleb/Reason TV/0124.13
  • In Search of Excellence /1982:
  • 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
  • 1/46
  • A bias for action.
  • (No. 1 “Attribute of Excellence” from In Search of Excellence.)
  • Ready. Fire. Aim.
  • (H. Ross Perot/EDS. Vs GM: Ready. Aim. Aim. Aim. Aim. Aim. …) Just do it!
  • (Nike.) Move fast, break things.
  • (Facebook.) Experiment fearlessly. Relentless trial and error. You miss 100% of the shots you never take.
  • (Wayne Gretzky.)
  • Fail. Forward. Fast. Fail faster, succeed sooner.
  • (IDEO.) Reward excellent failures. Punish mediocre successes. S.A.V.
  • (Screw Around Vigorously) Demo or die.
  • You only find oil if you drill wells.
  • WD40
  • (Water Displacement, 40 Tries.)
  • Ever notice that “What the hell” is always the right decision?
  • (Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins.)
  • (Whoever Tries The Most Stuff And Screws The Most Stuff Up The Fastest Wins.)

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