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 Professional Service Firm50: Fifty Ways to Transform Your "Department" into a Professional Service Firm Whose Trademarks are Passion and Innovation!
The Project50: Fifty Ways to Transform Every "Task" into a Project That Matters!
The Brand You50: Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an "Employee" into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion!
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.
"Bottom line": PSF (Professional Service Firm) + BY (Brand You) + WP (WOW Projects) + E (Excellence) = UVA (Unassailable Value-Added)
P-L-E-A-S-E take a look!
(AND ... let me know what you think via twitter: @tom_peters.)