Archives: May 2008

I'll Miss You! (I Already Do.)

There is a little bistro, Café Vanille, about 100 yards from my Boston house where you'll find me a couple of days every couple of weeks. The coffee is good to great (and 100 times better than my own), the croissants pure delight.

And they open at 6 a.m. No small thing for an early riser.

But that's not the point of this post. Rather, it is to say a few words about a woman I love but whose name I don't know. And the tragedy of her leaving me for good.

Of course I ought to know her name—but I don't. (Nor she mine.)

But here's what I do know:

(1) She comes (came) in about 4 a.m. to get things ready.
(2) She appears to be very efficient at what she does-did.
(3) She lights up my life, rain or snow or sleet or hail, gloomy or sunny, at 90°F and -5°F.

She is definitely not "chirpy." (I'd guess she's 45, an age by which chirpiness is highly suspect, by my lights.) It's just that we always exchange a few pleasant sentences, she seems to enjoy what she does, and she brings along a good (good, not great) attitude day in and day out.

I emphasize "good but not great" because, at 6 a.m., I'm not looking for "Let's go out and kick ass, guys." I'm looking for solid and engaged and sociable-friendly and gettin' the job done with everyday pleasure.

Her solidness and spirit were just the tonic I needed—as much as the caffeine. And she provided it again and again and then again.

She's gone now, and I miss her terribly (this was my first morning without her), and I didn't know her name. That's not all bad either, in a funny way. It's not that "Mary's gone—alas." It's that this person whose name I don't know who in a solid-quiet way launched my days on a sound (not giddy) basis is not in situ anymore.

As always (alas!), I also have an ulterior motive in telling this story. It is to remind us that business ("life," too, of course) rises or falls on the nature and character of what the great SAS boss, Jan Carlzon, called "moments of truth"—those fleeting moments of true human contact that define our enterprise's excellence—or lack thereof.

Thus our goal, perhaps primary goal, in every flavor of business of every size, is to "MTMOT"—Manage To Moments Of Truth. Every decision about hiring, firing, supervision, training, systems development is to be designed for and brought immediately and directly to bear on the "production" of Moments Of Truth. My beloved friend from Café Vanille is poster woman for the possible impact if one gets it "right."

So that's my professional message. As to my personal one, what higher tribute to any person than to say that day in and day out they brought a little sunlight into others' (mine—one other!) lives via the most fleeting moments of contact. I repeat, not cheeriness, chirpiness, or blinding light—just a dab of predictable friendly interaction that invariably pushed the (my) day in the right direction—or at least kept it from heading down the wrong road.

Back to business. Look for, desperately pursue, settle for nothing less than such folks—they are surely not a dime, or even a dollar, a dozen. But they are there and if you will take the trouble to seek them out and then show your occasional appreciation for what they do, Excellence, I predict, will be within your grasp. (And quite possibly a bushel of profit to go along with it.)

When I think of the sorts of interactions I describe above, two quotes come to mind:

"Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart."—Henry Clay, American statesman

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle."—Philo of Alexandria

If we could truly appreciate those two sentiments, and incorporate them into, as businesspeople, our enterprises' DNA, I think it would make a world of difference—and be the ultimate "blue ocean."

Happy weekend!


In this 3 minute video (captured by our friends at Skillsoft), Tom makes the case for hiring for passion over experience. He says, as he and Bob Waterman argued in In Search of Excellence, the numbers are the soft stuff and the truly hard stuff is "passion, energy, values, character, enthusiasm."

One of our commenters, Chetan Dhruve, suggested that we include the transcripts from the videos. We've added them to the previous video posts as well. Here's the transcript for this video in PDF form: Passion!

Tom Peters on Passion! from Tom Peters on Vimeo.

Trust Assessment

We got an email from a friend of a friend. Charles Green, coauthor with Cool Friend David Maister of The Trusted Advisor, wrote to us to ask if we could put this before our audience: Your Trust Quotient. Go to this link to take the assessment. I like it, though others at have reservations. Everybody says the same thing: It is very subjective. But, I found that its results described me fairly accurately. So, I'm putting it out to you. Try it out. Leave some comments for Charles. If you are not sold on his online integrity assessment, tell him how to make it better. Also, let him know, did it get you right as I found it did me? And, most importantly, do you see any uses for it in your work?

Beer, Beer, Beer from the Best*

Tom is speaking in Cancun at a joint customer & distributor conference for Grupo Modelo. They are the 8th largest brewer in the world and exclusively brew and distribute premium beers such as Corona, Pacifico, and Modelo. They have a gigantic market share in Mexico, are also prominent in the U.S.—and they're growing all over the world. (All their breweries are in Mexico.) You can learn more, of course, at Wikipedia.

Links for slides are here:
Grupo Modelo, Cancun, Final
Grupo Modelo, Cancun, Long

[*Note from Tom: "The Best" above is not a Client suck-up. Many-most would agree with such a designation.]

67 Random Thoughts on Design

Recall that last week I was the featured speaker, along with the visionary and inspiring Mayor of Seoul, at Korea Design Forum 2008. For that event, I created a list of "random" thoughts on design—that is, I excavated my brain to extract the main design ideas I've been shouting about off and on for the last 15 years. After the fact, on the long trip home, I began to mess with the list. The product (of the moment) is presented below:

**"Great things" are more valuable than not-so-great things. (The "duh" "epiphany.")
**"It" [Design] is everything-ubiquitous.
**Everybody's doin' it.
**If "everybody's doin' it," then how do we do it differently-sustainably?
**Everybody will do "it" differently. (But "design zealots" in Japan are about the same as design zealots in Italy.)
**"It" works only if it is "a way of life." (Apple. BMW. Cirque du Soleil. Starbucks.)
**Consider my term-of-choice: "Design-mindfulness." (Design-mindfulness is a universally shared attitude.)
**"It" does not work if it is a "program"!
**"It" is not about "cut and paste," not about sticky-noting a rock star designer—this may, in fact, be counterproductive.
**Designers must become a cherished "part of the family," not "those weird creatives."
**Designers as "dreamers with deadlines"—creative & loose ... with hardass deliverables.
**It's already faddish. (To say it is not to do it.)
**Don't try to "engineer it"—there is an essential "spontaneity" dimension. (Southwest Airlines.)
**"It" starts with the vendors and the vendors' vendors—and especially includes packaging and delivery folks. (And parking lot attendants. Think Disney and the gum-free Orlando airport.)
**In the long run, the "Mittelstand" will make the difference! (National-regional design prowess is powered and sustained by middle-sized companies headed by fanatics.)
**"Design hegemony" applies to the 3-person accounting shop.
**Acquiring design firms is (very) tricky; "they" don't readily fit into ordinary bureaucracies.
**There are no "exempts"—"it" applies as much, albeit in a different way, in purchasing as in product development.
**IT IS NOT ABOUT "MARKETING"! (Though marketing is a piece of it—like everything else.)
**The entire "supply chain" must be on board.
**As always, "MBWA" [Managing By Wandering Around] rules—embedding something new in a culture is a "walkabout" affair.
**"It" is about the way every individual conducts himself or herself. (E.g., the hotel housekeeper, restaurant busboy.)
**We [most of us] live in a "service economy." Design achievement, design dogmatism, applies as much to service "products" as to goods-lumpy objects.
**Design applies as much to a "PSF" [Professional Service Firm] as to a bank or car wash. (From dress code to calling card to flowers in reception to the look & feel of Client reports—to religiously capitalizing the "C" in Client whenever the word is printed to referring to you & the Client as "We.")
**Aesthetics and usability are equally important—with perhaps a slight edge to usability. ("'It won a prize' is the ultimate criticism."—Don Norman. The burning question: "Is the building livable?" Not, "Gosh, it's pretty-in-plan.")
**There is a "bet the farm" element at play—Dubai, Apple, China's Olympics.
**Great design does no less than "change the way we experience the world."
**Design is about "love" and "hate," not "like" and "dislike"—and hence the key to emotional bonding, internally as well as externally.
**When it comes to shaping behavior, there are few tools comparable to interior design and office arrangement—e.g., putting marketing and new product development next door to one another.
**There must be a far higher than normal dose of autonomy-accountability—love of the odd and oddball throughout the enterprise—in the end "it" is about perpetually renewing "value-added through creativity-freshness-spontaneity."
**Since we are dealing with artistic expression and open-endedness, a restless ethos of "trying a lot of stuff, fast" and then "trying again, fast" is of paramount importance.
**"It" must show up in the schools by age 5.
**"It" becomes the chief organizing principle for education.
**When it comes to aesthetics, you get most of "it" from the genes you were dealt. (You can "train in" appreciation, but not artistic flair.)
**As a result of the inescapable need to start the reconstruction process that will underlie a self-regenerating "soft economy" by reinventing-revolutionizing our schools, the transition to a "new [soft] economy" will likely be about 25 years.
**The cataclysmic shift described above—autonomy, creativity, the arts front and center—demands a "Jefferson" (powerful artist-visionary-politician) as national-regional-urban leader.
**Beware of engineers! (Said with affection—I am one.) They (we!) are reductionists—design is about wholes.
**Beware of MBAs (Said with no affection, even though I am one.) Analysis is imperative—but also reductionist. In "real life," emotion rules—but not at the B-schools!
**The education bit is less about aesthetics and more about encouraging individualism—to take a risk on design, you must have a burning desire (to the point of willingness to suffer) to do things differently. (Schools—ours, yours, everyone's—are brilliant at suppressing creativity and "excessive" shows of passion.)
**Capturing "best practice" only goes so far.
**"Six Sigma" can be a deadly enemy. (Tighten down too hard—bye bye creativity-spontaneity.)
**In "design world": Gender differences are ... enormous.
**Women buy most stuff, hence women must design most stuff. (And be very amply represented in management ranks—for reasons of profit, not social justice.)
**Think: "Success through design."
  Think: "Women!!"

**If you are interested in selling to Europe and the U.S. and Japan (etc.), then you must explicitly (!!!) focus on the over-50 market. (For example, think "7/13"—Americans buy 13 cars in a lifetime on average, 7 when they are 50 or older.)
**If you are serious, the Chief Design Officer [and/or Chief Experience Officer or, per Kevin Roberts, Chief Lovemark Officer] must sit at the same level as the CFO. So, too, the Chief People Officer!
**"It" must be on every (literally) agenda; in project reviews of every type "it" must hold its own with, say, the budget discussion. (Every = every.)
**You'll never be able to explain "it" to the analysts in so many words—hence it will always be to some extent an act of faith.
**Steve Jobs is god. Alas, Steve Jobs is too abnormal to learn from. (Apple is a great example of design primacy, but SJ is "10-sigma man.")
**Design competitions at all levels of society-business must be very big deals.
**Community—small as well as large—investment in the arts (festivals, museums, etc.) is imperative.
**Buy art. (All businesses of all sizes.)
**In the public sector, "it" starts at the airport for foreign visitors especially—an experience that includes signage, traffic management, cop courtesy, air quality, etc.
**You can do a lot for 2 cents! (Think Singapore—details to follow.)
**And don't ignore the subway map. (Think London.)
**Or the public toilets. (Think Paris.)
**Be merciless about urban trash—spend yourself poor if necessary on the removal thereof. The political leadership must be directly involved.
**Good design transforms healthcare facilities (especially hospitals)—and abets healing.
**Good design in eldercare facilities extends life and enhances quality of life—critical as the elder population soars.
**Small things are often (usually?) more important than big things.
**"Design Is Free" is closer to the mark than you would think.
**Process design excellence is a matchless tool—emphasizing aesthetics (!) as much as practicality.
**Throwing money at problems is almost always a dumb thing to do—Design Excellence included.
**Training in "service excellence" is often a better "design investment" than capital spending.
**This ain't limited to global enterprises.
**The overall quality and effectiveness of SMEs contributes more to the GDP and tenor-character of a nation-region than that of big ("famous") firms.
**Gandhi and Mandela and Churchill and JFK and Reagan and Thatcher and Sarkozy and Franklin and Washington set the tone to an incredible degree—their "personal style" was their "brand." ("It" starts with personal style of the tip-top leadership team. Sorry to be politically insensitive, but who would give a hoot about Tibet if it weren't for the look and style of the Dalai Lama?) Boss at any level: You're either on the "it" boat—or not.

Over to you ...

Definition of Leadership

Another video from Skillsoft makes its appearance on our site today. We frequently get asked for Tom's definition of leadership, and, in this video, he addresses the topic for nearly four minutes. The essence can be found in this quote from Robert Altman's lifetime achievement Oscar acceptance speech: "The director allows an actor to become more than they've ever dreamed of being."

Tom Peters on the Definition of Leadership from Tom Peters on Vimeo.

[If you'd like a PDF transcript of Tom's message, you can download it here: Definition of Leadership]

Event: Korea Design Forum

Tom is keynoting (for three hours) the Korea Design Forum 2008 in Seoul. He tells us that Korea is making a concerted push, as a nation, to become a "Worldclass Design Hub," following the sort of value-added strategy that Tom has participated in before, in places such as New Zealand and Taiwan. Check out the first ten slides. Together, they amount to a new Design Manifesto, drafted (according to Tom) between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. (?!) Korean time.

You can get the PPT here: Korea Design Forum, Seoul

All the News …

... about the website: Many of you have noticed glitches over the last several days. We're undergoing a server migration, and parts of the website have been out of commission. As we become aware of them, we get them fixed, so please keep the comments coming. Though we are navigating through our site to find problems, our first source of knowledge about them is usually you, our readers. We appreciate your help! And, be forewarned, soon the server's service will be interrupted again, though our host can't predict when, so please be patient with us in the next couple of weeks.

Another problem that's been noted is that comments are s-l-o-o-o-o-w to post. We're getting ready to delete old comments to reduce the immense size of our files, which have to be rebuilt every time a comment is posted. Never fear, though, we copied and saved all the past discussion. Every word posted here is important to us, and we have our entire blog archive, comments included, reproduced offline.

Event: ICSC

I spoke yesterday to the ICSC, the International Council of Shopping Centers. Between energy prices, the more-or-less recession, and turbulence in the financial markets ... things could be better. Nonetheless, tens of thousands made the trek to Las Vegas, where the summer weather arrived a bit early—high was 107°F yesterday. (News bulletin: that's hot.)

[Download the PPT: ICSC, Las Vegas]

Video Problems and Politics

First, an update on the problems several of you have reported with the videos. We had tried loading them onto our server and embedding them onto the front page. That didn't work. Now, we're moving them to Vimeo. This change will make the front page open much more quickly, since the videos won't load every time. We hope this will be a great improvement. Let us know! Thanks.

Second, politics is the subject of the latest Skillsoft video (1 minute 44 seconds). In this piece, Tom gives his opinion of politics on the job. That is, politics is part of every task, and if you don't want to "play politics," you really won't get much done. If you want to succeed at implementation, then you'd better want to do politics, too.

Tom Peters on Politics from Tom Peters on Vimeo.

[If you'd like a PDF transcript of Tom's video, you can download it here: Politics]