I read a lot of business books. Management, sales, marketing, strategy, you name it and I’ve probably read it. There was one best seller that I haven’t read and am just about done with. In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman is a classic in the management field. Many consider this book the beginning of the “guru” phase that took America and indeed the world by storm in the early ’80s.
As I’ve read the book and covered its Eight Basic Principles it got me to thinking about the difference this book and the hundreds of others I’ve read have made on me as a manager and employee. I’ve no doubt kept up with management jargon and buzzwords (MBWA, BHAG, etc) thanks to these books, but did all the time I spent reading and learning from them change me in some fundamental way?
I look over the eight principles Peters and Waterman highlight and I see a few that stand out like a bias for action, staying close to the customer, taking care of your people and sticking to your knitting. Does that mean before In Search of Excellence nobody beyond the excellent companies they write about was doing this? Isn’t being action oriented, always taking care of the customer, looking out for your employees first and doing what you do best commonsense business practices?
I read a brief bio in BusinessWeek about a CEO who didn’t read business books because all the ideas in them were either repackaged copies of older ideas or riffs on the latest fad (Apple anyone?). I think I’m better off for having read all these books because they gave me ideas, but ideas without action are useless. And what is the last book that spurred you to action?
I’ve heard in fiction that you can trace most plots to either the Bible or Shakespeare. Maybe in business (and business books) the trick is showing up on time, working hard and being nice. The funny thing is I haven’t read that book yet.
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