For the second time, we’ve interviewed Dennis Littky, the co-founder and co-director of Big Picture Learning. Read his new Cool Friends interview to learn how he’s brought the project-based curriculum that has worked so well at the high school level (92% graduation rate!) to higher education. Big Picture’s new program, College Unbound, helps those with interrupted college careers to finish getting their degrees.
As most of you know, our MOAP/Mother Of All Presentations is posted at excellencenow.com. It is—or attempts to be— “the works.” Pretty much all the stuff I’ve worried about over the last 3+ decades. There are 23 Parts and 4,096 slides. The core idea is what I call the “15H Model”—15 key ideas, each signified by a person’s name beginning with “H.”
The 4,096 “MOAP” had to start somewhere. And I just came across the NINE-slide version, from June 2008, from which MOAP sprouted. This is not meant as a nostalgia trip. The seed PowerPoint we’ve attached here is a pretty solid précis of all that followed—that is, the subsequent 4,087 slides.
Check it out!
Today, Tom’s speaking to The National Productivity and Competitiveness Council, in Port Louis, Mauritius. Their website shows that they launched a productivity improvement program for SMEs back in December 2013.
In 1985, I gave a 2-day seminar to YPO members in Manhattan. As we moved to close, I asked for feedback. Early on, a chap by the name of Manny Garcia got up to speak—Manny, who became a pal, was one of Burger King’s top franchisees. He began, “I really didn’t hear anything new in the two days”—you could have heard my sharp intake of breath from the back row. He continued, “I’d add that this was probably the best seminar I’ve attended in my many years in business.” Huh? “I’d call it a ‘BLINDING FLASH OF THE OBVIOUS.’ We KNOW all these things—but time and again we fail to relentlessly practice them.” In retrospect, I consider Manny’s feedback to be the best I’ve ever gotten.
Blinding Flash of the Obvious:
We know putting people REALLY first translates into mid- to long-term growth and maximized profitability. SO WHY DON’T WE DO IT?
We know … GREAT TRAINING … pays for itself 100 times over—in business just much as in sports and the arts. SO WHY DON’T WE DO IT?
We know a simple “THANK YOU” is the greatest of all motivators. SO WHY DON’T WE DO IT?
And on—and on—it goes.
Frankly, I am in a rotten mood. If I was preaching rocket science, and people didn’t “get it,” that’d be one thing. But each of the 27 points in this brief introductory section do amount to, beyond doubt, a … BFO/BLINDING FLASH OF THE OBVIOUS:
BFO #1: If you (RELIGIOUSLY) help people—EVERY SINGLE PERSON, JUNIOR OR SENIOR, LIFER OR TEMP—grow and reach/exceed their perceived potential, then they in turn will bust their individual and collective butts to create great experiences for Clients—and the “bottom line” will get fatter and fatter and fatter. (ANYBODY LISTENING?) (PEOPLE FIRST = MAXIMIZED PROFITABILITY. PERIOD.) (ANYBODY LISTENING?) (FYI: “People FIRST” message 10X more urgent than ever in the high-engagement “AGE OF SOCIAL BUSINESS.”)
BFO 2: ENABLING “ALL HANDS” GROWTH IS LEADER DUTY #1. (And ALL good things flow from there.)
BFO 3: The “CTO”/Chief Training Officer should (MUST!) be on a par with the CFO/CMO. (In a 45-minute “tour d’horizon” of the enterprise: GUARANTEE 9 of 10 CEOs* [*10 of 10?] wouldn’t once mention training. THAT = DISGRACE.)
BFO 4: OUT-READ ‘EM. AGE 17. AGE 77.
2014: READ & GROW … or wilt.
(One financial services superstar pegs CEO prob #1: “They don’t read enough.”) STUDENTHOOD (OBSESSION THEREWITH) (for ALL of us) FOR LIFE!
BFO 5: Organizations exist for ONE reason … TO BE OF SERVICE. PERIOD. (And effective leaders in turn are … SERVANT LEADERS. PERIOD.)
BFO 6: The … HEART OF THE MATTER (productivity, quality, service, you name it) … is the typically under-attended … FIRST-LINE BOSS. (Your FULL CADRE of first-line bosses is arguably … ASSET #1.)
BFO 7: WTTMSW. (Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins.)
WTTMSASTMSUTFW. (Whoever Tries The Most Stuff And Screws The Most Stuff Up The Fastest Wins.)
“A Bias For Action”: #1 Success Requisite in 1982.
“A Bias For Action”: #1 Success Requisite in 2014.
BFO 8: “Fail faster. Succeed sooner.”
“Fail. Forward. Fast.”
“Fail. Fail again. Fail better.”
“REWARD excellent failures. PUNISH mediocre successes.”
Book/Farson: Whoever Makes The Most Mistakes Wins.
BFO 9: Enabling change: It’s NOT NOT NOT about “vanquishing (ignorant) foes.” It’s ALL ALL ALL about recruiting and nurturing … ALLIES.
BFO 10: Year = 220 lunches. WASTE NOT ONE. Cross-functional SNAFUs #1 problem for most orgs. Software … WILL NOT … fix it. ONLY … “Social Stuff” works—e.g., makin’ pals in other functions; lunch = Strategy #1.
Goal: XFX/Cross-Functional Excellence … or die trying.
BFO 11: Excellence is NOT an “aspiration.” Excellence IS the next 5 minutes. (Or not.)
BFO 12: In Search of Excellence theme song: “Hard is soft. Soft is Hard.” (E.g., Numbers are the “soft stuff”—witness the crash. Solid relationships/ integrity/trust/teamwork = True “hard stuff.”)
Strategy is important.
Systems are important.
CULTURE is … MORE IMPORTANT.
(Serious change = Tackling the culture. PERIOD.)
(Even “Mr. Analysis,” in his autobiography, Lou Gerstner, IBM turnaround CEO, reluctantly acknowledged culture’s unequivocal primacy in the big-change-game.)
BFO 13: Apple’s market cap surpasses ExxonMobil’s.
Are YOU obsessed by … DESIGN? (In EVERY nook and EVERY cranny of EVERY tiny or humongous enterprise—and in your own professional affairs.)
BFO 14: WOMEN BUY EVERYTHING. WOMEN ARE THE MOST EFFECTIVE LEADERS. WOMEN ARE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL INVESTORS. (Does your organization … UNMISTAKABLY … reflect that from stem to stern?)
BFO 15: Forget B-I-G. (100% of biggies UNDER-perform long-term.) Instead build national wealth around … “MITTELSTAND” companies—MIDSIZE SUPERSTAR NICHE DOMINATORS—in ANY category you can name. (C.f., Germany.) (Battle cry: “Be the best. It’s the only market that’s not crowded.” WHY ELSE BOTHER?)
BFO 16: The problem is RARELY the problem. The lackluster RESPONSE to the problem is invariably the real problem. Answer? Slavishly adhere to these two response commandments: OVERKILL. UNEQUIVOCAL APOLOGY.
BFO 17: What do people (most) desire—including thee and me?
So: Show your appreciation … BIG TIME/ALL THE TIME. (Track it … RELIGIOUSLY!) (“Acknowledgement” is … THE MOST POWERFUL WORD IN THE LEADER’S VOCABULARY.)
BFO 18: The two most powerful words in the English language are?
No contest: “THANK YOU.”
(ACT ACCORDINGLY—e.g., OBSESSIVELY.)
BFO 19: Have you done your MBWA/Managing By Wandering Around … TODAY? If not, why not? (Hint: There are … ZERO ACCEPTABLE EXCUSES.)
BFO 20: Your CALENDAR knows your TRUE priorities.
You … ARE … your calendar.
Your calendar … NEVER LIES.
BFO 21: What is the individual’s/organization’s #1 enduring strategic asset? Easy:
ASSET #1 = INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE EXCELLENCE AT …
(Listening can be … TAUGHT. Listening PER SE is a … PROFESSION. Are YOU a “stellar professional listener”? THINK ABOUT IT. PLEASE.)
BFO 22: Aim to make EVERY internal and external experience (PRODUCT/ SERVICE/SYSTEM/EMPLOYEE INTERACTION/CUSTOMER INTERACTION/ COMMUNITY INTERACTION) a … WOW!
WOW = WOW. USE THE “W-WORD” PER SE!
E.g., Do 4 out of your Top 5 projects score 8 or above on a 10-point “WOW Scale”? If not, get on it:
(WITHIN THE HOUR.)
BFO 23: While on the topic of … WOW:
White collar work is by and large ticketed to fall prey to artificial intelligence/eye-popping algorithms as well as globalization. Stand there and take it on the chin?
My answer (1999 book, The Professional Service Firm 50):
CONVERT EVERY “DEPARTMENT”/”UNIT” (AND YOURSELF) INTO A FULL-FLEDGED … “PSF”/PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRM … WHOLLY DEDICATED TO EXCELLENCE & WOW & ADDING SKYSCRAPING VALUE TO THEIR CUSTOMERS’ (USUALLY INTERNAL CUSTOMERS) ACTIVITIES.
There is no good reason not to proceed in this direction within the fortnight!
BFO 24: EVERY DAY PROVIDES A DOZEN (LITERALLY) LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES FOR EVERY ONE OF US. (Every = EVERY. From the most junior—and even the 3-day temp—to the Big Dudes.)
GRAB AT LEAST ONE.
BFO 25: CIVILITY WORKS. CIVILITY PAYS.
E.g.: K = R = P.
Kindness = Repeat business = Profit.
(ONE MORE TIME: “Kindness” is N-O-T “Soft.”)
BFO 26: Most of us/most organizations discount … INTROVERTS. THAT IS A … FIRST-ORDER STRATEGIC BLUNDER. (Please read Susan Cain’s book QUIET. It was a no-bull lifechanger for me.)
BFO 27: Listen (HARD) to my old D.C. boss, Fred Malek:
“EXECUTION IS STRATEGY.”
(Execution: That all-important … “LAST 99 PERCENT.”)
“The Gross National Product does not include the beauty of our poetry or the intelligence of our public debate. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”—Robert Francis Kennedy
“To his dying day, [Robert S. McNamara] puzzled over facts and figures being no match for hearts and minds.”—Boston Globe/04.04.14
Tom has kept working on this collection of essays, so that now it contains every one of his familiar topics along with the new ones he picked up in a year of self re-education. You’ll find “people first,” “bias for action,” and “the importance of training,” as well as “social media,” “gamification,” and “the accelerating rate of change.” Here’s the latest update. Enjoy!
The first event of the year finds Tom in Auckland speaking to the New Zealand Initiative. For this group, he came up with suggestions for the nation as a whole, such as people first, the importance of education, and a focus on SMEs (small/medium-sized enterprises). So, he offers you “In Search of Kiwi Excellence”—universally applicable—as a PDF along with the New Zealand Initiative PPT.
Our blog has been the central focus of tompeters.com for 10 years. Coudal Partners helped us shift from a static site to a blog-powered site.
Now, it’s time for a change of pace. We want you to be able to easily access the wide variety of topics and formats in which you can find insights from Tom that change the way you work. Let us know what you think! Tweet Tom: @tom_peters. Or send an email: email@example.com.
We can barely contain ourselves. The tompeters.com redesign is launching next week and we’re excited to share it with you!
Our goal is to put you in the driver’s seat, so to speak. One of the new features will allow you to browse Tom’s ideas by topic. So if you’re a Brand You fanatic, all his best pieces on Brand You (videos, manifestos, articles, audio, etc.) will be instantly at your fingertips, hand-picked by the staff that know his work better than he does.
Hang in there … we’re just polishing things up. Putting the final shine on it, if you will. We’ll hand you the keys next week!
What started when Tom copied a few Twitter conversations and made them into a PDF has turned into a magnum opus. Now 57 parts, his “Excellence. NO EXCUSES.” has been posted here before with the title “Some Stuff.” As he points out (p.21), “Most of our conscious life will be at work. Like it or not. Waste your work life and you have effectively wasted your life.” Why not make that time at work and its product Excellent? Download the PDF (updated 03.06) and choose a few of these 57 ways to make your work-life-output Excellent now.