The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last
by Tom Peters
Tom Peters makes a renewed call to excellence in the context of an increasingly data-driven and dehumanized world. His “putting people first” mantra is even more on point than it was when his seminal work In Search of Excellence was published in 1982.
“The primary defenses against AI-driven job destruction are widespread, relatively unconstrained creativity and novel organizational arrangements designed to produce products and services that will stand out in an automated world. I unequivocally believe that such creativity is antithetical to algorithmic optimization of human affairs.”
“So what is this Excellence Dividend? In short, businesses that are committed to excellence in every aspect of their internal and external dealings are likely to be survivors. They are better and more spirited places to work. Their employees are engaged and growing and preparing for tomorrow. Their customers are happier and inclined to spread tales of their excellence far and wide. Their communities welcome them as good neighbors. Their vendors welcome them as reliable partners. That in turn translates directly into bottom-line results and growth. And, AI and robotics notwithstanding, it translates into jobs that last and the likely creation of new jobs as well.” Continue reading →
I have posted a review of The Excellence Dividend with some key points, but in this post I wanted to call attention to the vast number of books that Tom Peters refers to. The guy has read A LOT of books. I’ve compiled a list of 137 books mentioned throughout the text. I’ve read a few of them. The bold listings link to my review on The Key Point; the others link to Amazon.com.
Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points that Challenge Every Company
by Andrew S. Grove
“A strategic inflection point is a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change. The change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end.”
Andy Grove, former chairman of Intel, describes six categories of 10X changes: competition, technology, customers, suppliers, complementors, and regulation. “When a Wal-Mart moves into a small town, the environment changes for every retailer in that town. A 10X factor has arrived. When the technology for sound in movies became popular, every silent actor and actress personally experienced the 10X factor of technological change. When container shipping revolutionized sea transportation, a 10X factor reordered the major ports around the world.” Continue reading →
The study of business spans “such diverse disciplines as accounting, communications, economics, finance, leadership, management, marketing, operations… and strategy.” This book provides a thumbnail overview of variety of such topics. Here’s a sample of ten items covered in the book.
Cash Flow vs. Profit. “Profitable, fast growing companies can be chronically short of cash. A business typically makes a sale before payment is received from the buyer, while the costs related to that sale, such as materials, labor, commissions, and overhead are borne up front. Consequently, a business that is profitable may be short of cash until payment is received. An especially fast growing company with rapidly increasing sales might be chronically short of cash. Procuring and maintaining adequate capital is crucial for businesses… Undercapitalization is among the most common causes of business failure. It can bring down an otherwise healthy organization.”
Quality Is Still Free: Making Quality Certain in Uncertain Times
by Philip B. Crosby
Philip B. Crosby (1926-2001) created the Zero Defects performance standard. I only recently became aware of him through a reader comment on a Wall Street Journal article. Crosby joined ITT in 1965 as the conglomerate’s first director of quality. In 1979 he founded Philip Crosby Associates, a firm which trained 12,000 executives and managers through its Quality College.
“I built the Quality College around the Four Absolutes of Quality Management as they had evolved for me over the years:
Quality means conformance to requirements, not goodness.
Quality comes from prevention, not detection.
Quality performance standard is Zero Defects, not Acceptable Quality Levels.
Quality is measured by the Price of Nonconformance, not by indexes.”
“Quality is free” means it is cheaper to do things right the first time. Continue reading →
Boards that Lead: When to Change, When to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way
by Ram Charan, Dennis Carey, Michael Useem
“A board can be a destroyer or a creator of value.” This book presents an excellent analysis of how the inept boards of Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, and AIG destroyed shareholder value; interesting insights into the turnarounds of Apple and Tyco; CEO succession at Ford, 3M, and GlaxoSmithKline; and Procter & Gamble’s acquisition of Gillette. Continue reading →
Turn the Ship Around: How to Create Leadership at Every Level
by L. David Marquet , Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Capt. Marquet writes about implementing a profoundly different management approach when he took command of the worst performing submarine in the U.S. Navy. “Within a year, the situation was totally turned around. We went from worst to first in most measures of performance, including the one I valued the most—our ability to retain our sailors and officers.”
“Disengaged, dissatisfied, uncommitted employees erode an organization’s [productivity] while breaking the spirits of their colleagues.” Marquet found the root cause of the problem to be the leader-follower structure, in which subordinates “have limited decision-making authority and little incentive to give the utmost of their intellect, energy, and passion… We had 135 men on board and only 5 of them fully engaged their capacity to observe, analyze, and problem solve.” Continue reading →