Tom Peters – The Pursuit of WOW!

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After reading 163 Little Big Things, one more fantastic book by Tom Peters, stuffed full of illustrated advice. 

Style like a hammer. Straight forward, what I like in Peters as I do in writers like Nicholas Nassim Taleb and James Altucher. Like James Altucher, Tom Peters’ lists are lovely exhaustingly long.

The write up of the conversations in the book are not such a big attraction to me. I found them not very entertaining and I started skipping pages. (Reading mcust be fun, or I will start skipping pages or the entire book.)

Peters is very nicely unconventional. Hates pretence. Hates arrogance. Loves to talk to the people on the floor.

For a non-fiction writer he advertises fiction books wholeheartedly.

Fiction beats nonfiction. Avoid nonfiction! It’s too unrealistic. Lately I’ve reveled in Paul Bowles, Heinrich Böll, Julian Barnes, and Max Frisch, among others. Nothing conveys the richness of life in quite the same way as a great novel.

What is great Peters is not afraid to quote researchers (who) that have found the work of some organisational advisors, amongst which Peters and Waterman totally useless.

Fantastics Reading List. A freaking good book.

Do! Experimentation over analysis.

The first 99.9 percent of getting from here to there is the determination to do it and not to compromise, no matter what sort of roadblocks those around you (including peers) erect.”

What does all this add up to? It’s what I call the difference between doing something “for” the market, and being part “of” the market. “For” firms depend on data collection and manipulation, detached analysis, elaborate market plans, and planner-designer-marketers versed in the latest B-school techniques. “Of” firms seek out zany employees with out-of-the-ordinary views, nurture a spirit of adventure, cherish instinct and intuition, and dote on things that have never been tried before.

Love this one: pounding this all the time, and quoting Steve Jobs as well: “Customers do not know what they want.”
Tom Peters is a bit more elegant:

Competitive businesses must lead their customers. The prospective buyer can’t tell you what she likes until she has used it and lived with it.

Good Books.
Running a One-Person Business by Claude Whitmyer, Salli Rasberry, and Michael Phillips.

Solutions are to the point:

…understanding that the more apparently mundane-humdrum the product (or service), the better the chance that DESIGN MINDFULNESS can revolutionize it (BECAUSE MOST IDIOTS DONT GET IT)

Details matter.

“It’s the Loo, Dummy!”

Paying specialists more than managers.

“Did Moses have a secret Eleventh Commandment that said that bosses have to be paid more than the people that report to them?”

On corporate procrastination.

“A good deal of corporate planning … is like a ritual rain dance,” wrote Dartmouth’s Brian Quinn. “It has no effect on the weather that follows, but those who engage in it think it does…. Moreover, much of the advice related to corporate planning is directed at improving the dancing, not the weather.”

“The object of business is not to be lean and mean, not to reorganize and then re-engineer. The object of business is to invent, to grow—and add to employment over time.”

On self-organisation.

“Changing a culture of dependence to a culture of self-organizing independence is hard work. But at least what I’m reporting here suggests that it doesn’t go against the human grain.”

Self organisation has largely failed because appropriate tools are not in place. It is often a short-sighted cost cutting operation where administrative roles have been moved to the daily work of staff. I remember all the (otherwise billable) hours I spent booking a business trip. Or doing my expenses and fight the expense reimbursement teams in the Philippines (outsourced of course, with strict rules and no authorization so make decisions) to get my money back. Tools should be in place before starting self organisation.

Corporatism. Seen it in real life.

“No, I don’t envy for a moment the laid-off, 52-year-old middle manager who’s spent his entire career in the womb called IBM. My life, my house-painter friend’s life, the life of any independent contractor looms as a frightening and unnerving prospect to him.”

“Getting good at any damn thing takes work; getting artful takes hard, continuous work. Bikes, skates, sailboats, gardening … and computers. So don’t wait for tomorrow, hoping that the arrival of the no-brainer computer will make you a facile member of the 21st-century technology club in the space of a few minutes.”

Books and more books… A massive library of Peters’ sources.

Jobs roles forget them. Engagement is key. Also or maybe especially for roles serving internal customers. Getting to know your (internal) customers is the most important thing.

“Eliminate all job descriptions. NOW. (Today.) Destroy all organizational charts. NOW. (Today.) Have all top corporate/divisional managers pledge two days per month to customer visits (puny, really), two days per month to supplier and distributor visits. Make sure that every person in the organization makes at least two customer visits a year.”

Be always ready to change. Change. Be curious. Crazy. Naive.

“If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.” L. Wittgenstein

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