The Decent Thing to Do Is the Smart Thing to Do

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Going back 25 years to 1982 and In Search of Excellence, Bob Waterman and I were simply interested in what made for excellent corporate performance. We didn't have much in the way of pre-conceived notions. Delightfully, our research showed that some very human "basics"—doing rather than talking, focusing on the growth and wellbeing of our people and our customers, and being clear about "what we care about around here"—were the apparent bedrock of superior performance. Five years on, my Thriving on Chaos snuck into print. Needless to say I was pleased when Hoover Institute reviewer Paul Weaver wrote in the Wall Street Journal: "Mr Peters is an enthusiast, a storyteller and a lover of capitalism. He is saying [in Thriving on Chaos] that effective management is management that delivers more value to customers and more opportunity for service, creativity and growth to workers. He is saying that the decent thing to do is also the smart thing. It's a wonderful message."

Immersed in a somewhat leisurely summer, and on the verge of the 25th birthday of Search, I have been thinking about what the good or bad or indifferent practice of management is all about. Notwithstanding the very real threat posed by nihilistic terrorists, I do believe that entrepreneurial capitalism is the strongest force possible for unleashing human potential and perhaps a relatively peaceable kingdom—from Tinmouth Vermont to Dubai to Nairobi. And, by and large, successful entrepreneurial capitalism depends upon the effective practice of management. And if you believe Paul Weaver—"Effective management is management that delivers more value to customers and more opportunity for service, creativity and growth to workers. ... The decent thing to do is also the smart thing"—effective management is humanistic management. With such grand "stuff" circling in my brain, I composed a rambling piece that you'll find here. It is no more than a halting effort to answer, "What's it all about, Alfie?"