Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ideas, Liberation, Speed

Just been reading an interesting article by Tom Peters reflecting on his work of now some 27 years ago: In Search Of Excellence. This revisitation was published in 2001 and so, to some extent at least, was a product of the then-bursting dot com bubble. But, having said all that, the three things he would add to the 8 basic principles espoused in ISoE, namely, ideas, liberation and speed, resonate well even now,despite the world of business moving on another 7 years in the meantime.

Today, for example, I spent the morning at a major player in the virtualization world seeing if there is some fit between our technology and their future directions. In the afternoon, I joined an internal meeting where we had an big external market analysis firm in to run a day-long working session around our market space and opportunity.

Liberation and speed came strongly to the fore in both meetings, with ideas bouncing around both rooms like a super-ball in a spin-dryer. And it was a fun - if long and tiring - day, perhaps precisely because those three basic tenets formed the basis for all that was covered? We talked nothing of organization, structure or even that much about technology, but everything around opportunity, needs and the freedom to change.

Personally, I'm no great fan of business books, and ISoE never really struck much of a cord with me if only because I somehow managed to spend very little time in my career in places where the old way, namely focusing solely on numbers and strict top-down hierarchical control of everything, was the norm. (I say that, but I did see it from the customer side. Anyone who had dealings with GEC in the UK in the 80s would recognise that ethos in spades, and likely attest to it's negative impact on staff morale and ultimately the long term success - or not - of the entire enterprise!) However , it was interesting to re-read this updated summary of a book that, when it first came out, made such a revolutionary impact, and to note that Peters was still able to add value, albeit with the benefit of 20/20 (years) hindsight.

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