Today's event takes Tom to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago for the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business 2015 Distinguished Leadership and Innovation Conference in Port of Spain. The other principal speaker at this premier annual regional event is Tom’s long time colleague Peter Senge—Peter, the world’s leading evangelist for “systems thinking,” is best known for his book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Public and private sector leaders from numerous Caribbean nations will be in attendance.
Tom is speaking to the HSM Management & Leadership Forum in São Paulo today. He reckons it's about his 15th or so visit to SP in the last, say, 25 years. As usual, he's working with his colleague and HSM founder Jose Salibi Neto. From the start Tom has called HSM events "peerless." Over the years, HSM has branched out far beyond Brazil—including an annual extravaganza for thousands in Radio City Music Hall. (Tom called his appearance on the Radio City stage "beyond belief, a 'pinch me' moment.")
In conversation with Tom before the current event, Jose shared his "secret" of sustaining: "Every year is a start-up. As is every event. You begin the year and the event with ZERO satisfied customers. You must earn your reputation each time out." Tom says it's a sentiment he can "very much relate to."
As to Tom's talk, he says it will be built around "something new that's not new." Preparing for the event, he read a relatively new book, The Customer Service Revolution by customer service guru and wildly successful entrepreneur John DiJulius. Tom continued, "Sure, this is a sentiment that has been my 'calling' for years, but John said it so very very perfectly: 'YOUR CUSTOMERS WILL NEVER BE ANY HAPPIER THAN YOUR EMPLOYEES.'"
I have been tweaking and twisting the attached document. Here's the latest.
When we interviewed Rajesh Setty for our Cool Friends collection, he described himself as a serial entrepreneur. Since then, he's skipped from one good idea to another, always with the the same goal, the tag line for his blog, "Bringing Ideas to Life, With Love!"
Tom participated in a recent project, Audvisor. In Setty's words:
"Audvisor is the world's first push-button learning app for smartphones. We bring the world's top experts to share their insights in 3 minutes or less. The insights are delivered Pandora-style. Listeners can pick topic(s) or expert(s), push a button, and start learning. You can read more and download the app at www.audvisor.com."
He sent us these links, for your convenience:
What follows is the byproduct of an enhanced (>140 characters) twitter discussion in February 2015 at @tom_peters:
TP: "Management" is a dreary/misleading word. E.g., mgt/standard usage = shouting (or whispering, if you're a "Theory Y" aficionado) orders in the slave galley. Consider, please, a more encompassing/more accurate definition: "'Management' is the arrangement of human affairs in pursuit of desired outcomes." (No kidding. Self-evident. Or should be.)
TP: Management is not about Theory X vs. Theory Y/"top down" vs. "bottom up." It is about how humans fundamentally arrange their/our collective efforts in order to survive—and, hopefully, thrive.
TP: Quintessential "management doctrine": U.S. Constitution?! (Among other things, artfully combines "vision" and "execution.")
TP: Love the idea of U.S. b-schools teaching full-blown course on U.S. Constitution. Three profs: poly sci, econ, psych.
TP: Constitution Hall in Philly in summer of 1787: Ultimate "board room" debate on "managerial philosophy"—in this case, a bold experimental collectivity called a "democratic" nation, the United States of America.
TP: Constitution defining doctrine on the merits and demerits of "centralization vs. decentralization"/autonomy (the "big idea") vs. control (a necessary reality). (The drafters of the U.S. Constitution included decentralists like Jefferson and centralists like Adams and middle-of-the-roaders like Franklin.)
Twitter respondent: "Sounds like someone has locked you in a boardroom for a day with a management consultant."
TP response to the above: Get your point all too well, as a professional jargon hater, but my goal is to suggest there's nothing pedestrian about "management"—and, hence, there should not be anything pedestrian about the teaching thereof. It is about the essence of collective life. (Man, in our Darwinian adventure, experienced a "disruptive" brief period in which our brains grew like Topsy. The growth was not the genetic addition of logic/incipient math skills; it was primarily the addition of enhanced social skills, which allowed us to organize and thus surpass the rest of our fellow creatures. I.e., we learned de facto "management.")
TP: Nations are by definition in the "people (citizen) development business." Which includes an encasement called "national security" (given, alas, a Hobbesian view of humans at their acquisitive-aggressive worst*). (*The drafters of the U.S. Constitution were by and large Hobbesian—much concerned about blunting the downsides of collective behavior.)
The U.S. Constitution is an exemplar of brevity—and for the subsequent 238 years there has been, as there should be, a battle royal between "small government" adherents and "big government" adherents. While my politics are "liberal," I would have to admit that I come down squarely on the Philip K. Howard side of the fence; his latest masterpiece book is titled, The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government. That is, over time sluggishness increases and entropic forces rule. Among other things, this by and large explains the pitiful (accurate word choice) long-term performance of large commercial enterprises; e.g., half of the "Fortune 500" of 1999 had dropped off the list a scant 15 years later.
One sage said that dealing with technology change effectively is less about the technology per se and more about the lagging variable—novel organizational formats that must be invented. I would wholeheartedly agree. The Tech Tsunami is exactly that, a tsunami. But the primary work to be done must focus on people (development thereof in the face of, at the top of the list, charging artificial intelligence) and the organizational arrangements that allow firms to adapt on a dime (as hard a task as exists) and exploit rather than be run over by the technology. This is a million miles beyond mere organizational "flattening" and the "agile movement."
The old battle royal persists. I abhor authoritarianism—but I am equally fearful of anarchy.
We shall see.
(Wouldn't it be lovely if our "management" schools could be a leading variable rather than a lagging variable in embracing change. This wee paper does not hold the answer—but perhaps it is a hint at how tawdry "management," and education associated therewith, must be reconceived as a discipline at the epicenter of adapting to/exploiting the revolutions with which we are surrounded—from Washington to Wellington, from Wall Street to Main Street. We could do little better than start with Peter Drucker's dictum that "management" is not a numbers game aiming for "optimization," but instead the quintessential "liberal art." MBA as "Master of Business Arts," anyone? Just a thought.)
TP: Every day for every one of us—teen and octogenarian alike—offers numerous leadership opportunities. What are you waiting for?
TP: Leadership's Big Four: Enthusiasm. Acknowledgement/intense listening. Helping others when you haven't got the time. Reading/learning.
Michael St. Lawrence: Bonus Fifth: Lead to somewhere interesting and worthwhile.
TP/My #5: "Be playful." I never trust anyone who knows where they're going.
Michael St. Lawrence: Playful is tough when quarterly earning calls are breathing down your neck.
TP: But without playfulness, possibility of innovation is nil. (See Michael Schrage's classic book, Serious Play.)
TP/My revised Leadership Big Five: Enthusiasm. Acknowledgement/intense listening. Helping others when you haven't got the time. Playfulness/"Doin' stuff." Reading/learning
TP/from the diary of Dale Carnegie: "The biggest problem I shall ever face: the management of Dale Carnegie."
TP/courtesy Leo Tolstoy: "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."
TP: Three times to introduce a new product: Too early. Too late. Lucky.
Alan Guinn to tweeter: Do you really believe someone who has been pushing a position [on Net Neutrality] over a decade offers an unbiased and objective view?
TP: There are 7 billion people on earth. Not one is free of bias. If you [think you] are, you are arrogant/out-of-touch/dangerous.
TP: "Let me be frank." = "Let me illustrate how full of shit I am."
Ken Wilkinson: "With all due respect ..." = "Prepare to be thoroughly disrespected ..."
TP: Five stars!
TP: I love this sooooo much. A list about 150 different cognitive biases. Bon chance: wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases
Martin Birt: "What businesses can learn from the National Ballet of Canada." My latest piece in the Financial Post.
TP: Excellence in the arts is very parallel to biz. Arts leaders are at the front of the pack and can teach businesses re talent seeking/development!
Most business books focus on what's broken. This selection focuses on organizations that work & shine—by (actually, far beyond lip service) "Putting People First." Why not a book club? I've known organizations where such groups had very high impact.
Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over—and Collaboration Is In, by Peter Shankman with Karen Kelly
Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives, by Kip Tindell, CEO Container Store (#1 company to work for USA)
Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, by John Mackey, CEO Whole Foods, and Raj Sisodia
Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose, by Raj Sisodia, Jag Sheth, and David Wolfe
The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits, by Zeynep Ton, MIT
Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love, by Richard Sheridan, CEO Menlo Innovations (enterprise software)
Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down, by Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies
The Customer Comes Second: Put Your People First and Watch 'Em Kick Butt, by Hal Rosenbluth, former CEO, Rosenbluth International
It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, by Mike Abrashoff, former commander, USS Benfold
Turn the Ship Around; How to Create Leadership at Every Level, by L. David Marquet, former commander, SSN Sante Fe (Nuclear sub)
Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, by Bo Burlingham
Hidden Champions: Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders, by Hermann Simon (German Mittelstand companies)
Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America, by George Whalin
Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job, by Dennis Bakke, former CEO, AES Corporation
The Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly
The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success, by Rich Karlgaard, publisher, Forbes
Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, by Tony Hseih, CEO Zappos
Camellia: A Very Different Company
Fans Not Customers: How to Create Growth Companies in a No Growth World, by Vernon Hill, former CEO, Commerce ("Wow") Bank
Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School, by Richard Branson
In 2013 I wrote a paper titled "Getting Things (THAT MATTER) Done Against the Odds and in the Inky-black Shadow Cast by the Guardians of the Status Quo." It is based on my personal experience with big change projects such as the McKinsey project that led to In Search of Excellence, which "rebranded McKinsey" according to the book The Firm, and now accounts for a very sizeable share of McK's revenue. Blended in are my observations from dealing with big organizations and big change leaders over the last 35 or so years.
In any event, after my recent Auckland Business School activities, I decided to update and upgrade the 2013 piece. The result is attached.
Lemme know how you like it via twitter: @tom_peters
FYI: I've also tossed in, w/o updating, my 2013 paper "Presentation EXCELLENCE," which I'm sending on to my Auckland b-school mates as well.
I can hardly complain about my book sales—from 1982 to the present. But there is one of my books that has, in my opinion, been wildly under-appreciated. Namely my 1999 The Professional Service Firm50. It was part of a 3-book series that we called "The Work Matters":
The Brand You50 took off like a jackrabbit—and continues to be front-page news 16 years later. I am, of course, delighted.
But the real powerhouse, I believe, is The Professional Service Firm50. To cut to the chase, I believe that transforming pretty much any work group into something resembling a Professional Service Firm based 100% on growing intellectual capital—that's all there is—is a de facto singular path to adding corporate value and saving and enhancing the "worker's" security, and even job satisfaction. (At my most arrogant, I say, "What else is there to do?")
Also, as I said in 1999, the good news is we do not have to invent anything new. Though keeping up is nightmarishly difficult for everyone in 2015, the professional services format is tried-and-true and has been around for decades. (E.g., my former employer, McKinsey & Co. has been successfully at it since 1926—89 years; see the recent book The Firm for the more or less full story.)
So why did so few take to this notion? I have an answer: I have no bloody idea.
I got some superlative feedback, including a heroic tale from a senior Walmart exec. But by and large I was greeted by stony silence—i.e., disinterest. In fact, my Tom Peters Company colleagues in the UK created a training product around The PSF50, that worked very well with a handful of clients—but was dropped in response to disinterest in the marketplace as a whole.
To be sure, the transformation suggested is 10X times harder than it looks—e.g., a true PSF "culture" is a long way from most departmental charters. Just ask the leaders of the firms noted at the beginning of the presentation—e.g., Rolls-Royce aircraft engines, IBM, UPS—who have made "services added" (a surrogate for "PSF-ing," by my lights) transformation.
But even with success tales from the likes of IBM, the surface was barely scratched—and as a result 10s of millions of largely salvageable (in my opinion) white-collar jobs have gone bye-bye, and the trend is wildly accelerating as, to quote Marc Andreessen on the incursion of high-end artificial intelligence, "Software is eating the world." (And no, I am not so arrogant as to suggest The PSF50 could have saved 100,000,000 jobs; but I am arrogant enough to think such a methodology, especially if adopted a decade ago, could have made a positive contribution.)
At any rate, a recent event at the Auckland Business School launched me on a crusade to resurrect the "PSF" concept. You will see the first result here, a more or less fully annotated PowerPoint presentation titled "The (Imperative) PSF++ Solution." The ++ in the title refers to adding in the Project50 and Brand You50 ideas.
P-L-E-A-S-E take a look!
(AND ... let me know what you think via twitter: @tom_peters.)