Medtronic is a premier world-wide purveyor of medical devices and therapies. Tom's speaking to their EMEAC FY-15 Annual Kickoff Meeting in Frankfurt today. To get the PPT from his presentation, see below. Also attached is his additional offering to this group, "Systems SECOND."

(Tom tells us that perhaps he'll depart from his normal "pull no punches" style. "Hey," he said, "I have a Medtronic pacemaker implant. I gotta be nice to these folks.")

Medtronic Final
Medtronic Long Version
Systems Have Their Place: SECOND Place

Herein a 737-page “Freebie”:
74 Ways to Launch Your Journey. Now.
(And Then There’s Also “MOAP”)

Last October I wandered across a little item on the topic of "overcoming resistance to change." As happens in life, that phrase turned out to be the innocent trigger for a 9-month exercise which has resulted in the 100K-word, 737-page "collection" presented herewith.

"Resistance to change" conjures up images of "battles" and "conflict" and "winners" and "losers." I get it—and I think it's 100% ass backwards, to put it in blunt terms. The joy—and it is "joy"—of having a new, contrarian idea is seeking out colleagues who share it, jumping into the pond, and starting to splash around. That is, in my view, change agentry is about collecting and nurturing and playing with allies—not "vanquishing" "foes."

Using twitter as my medium-of-choice, I began a vigorous exchange on this topic. And the rest is history. Well, not exactly. The tweetstream/twitter rant on making friends versus defeating foes triggered several like tweetstreams. Which led to this, that, and the other. Some of the thises & thats & others were twitter-inspired, some weren't.

October became Christmas and New Year's, and on 15 January my wife and I headed off to New Zealand for our annual two-month retreat from Vermont winter. (And what a winter we "missed.") I not-so-grandly labeled the oddball collection I'd been cobbling together "Some Stuff." It was a tad over 100 pages in length.

Two weeks into my New Zealand sojourn, on 1 February 2014 at 1 P.M., to be all too exact, I was in a lollapalooza of a head-on-both-cars-totaled car crash. Though no one was badly injured, I was the person at fault—one more Yank driving on the wrong side of the road. My physical problems were non-trivial but not debilitating. But the mental anguish was a whole other story. Only airbags and a fastened backseat seat belt had kept me from grievously injuring—or worse—three innocents.* ** *** (*My Kiwi neighbors were stunningly supportive—treating me like a longtime neighbor, not a pariah; bless them one and all.) (**This paper-book is unstintingly dedicated to John Hetrick, the guy who in 1952 invented the auto airbag; in this single instance, he may well have saved three lives.) (***The last item in this piece is an outright demand that you insist that passengers fasten their back seat seatbelt—the fastened belt saved a passenger from significant harm, perhaps death, in my accident.)

My head ceaselessly played a video loop of the crash—a psychiatrist friend said it was literally the "garden variety" homefront flavor of PTSD.

My mental therapy, the only thing I could do to distract my mind and slow the film loop, was to go back to "Some Stuff." To cut to the chase, the 100 pages grew by mid-May to, yes, 737 pages, the titled morphed from "Some Stuff" to "Excellence. No Excuses."—and the final (for now) product is hereto attached.

All yours!

The paper-tome-book-encyclopedia is a hodgepodge-by-design. That is, to reprise the subtitle, "74 Ways to Launch Your Journey. Now."

I should offer a word of warning. As I said, "it" all started courtesy my ire at "overcoming resistance to change." The tone was thus set. Virtually all of the 74 items are "rants" of one flavor or another. And a byproduct of that is a busload of: BOLDFACE type and many, even by my standards, BRIGHT-RED-IN-YOUR-FACE-EXCLAMATION-MARKS. (One colleague calls it "one of your PowerPoint presentations—on 8 1/2 X 11 paper." Indeed.)

Bottom line: This is 737 pages of stuff I really give a shit about.

I'm not wholly insane—I don't expect you to sit down for the weekend and read it cover to cover. But I do hope you will dive in from time to time and cherry-pick an idea to be used "Monday morning." Or some such.

(FYI I: In deference to the intimidating length of the "book," we are also providing most of it in a chapter-length format—also attached hereto.)

(FYI II: This in a way is "Act TWO." On 01 January 2012, we posted "MOAP"—the Mother Of All Presentations—at our then-new website, That piece was titled "EXCELLENCE. NOW."—a 23-part, 4096-slide, fully annotated PowerPoint presentation of "everything I've learned." It was three years in the making.)

In Search of Excellence took off in part because, though only a 5K first printing of the book was planned, my coauthor Bob Waterman and I had given away about 5K copies of the massive, 600-page McKinsey presentation booklet on which the Harper & Row hardback version was based. Which is to say, I have been a vigorous advocate of the desirability and power of the "sharing economy" long before the idea recently became popularized. In the "book" attached hereto, item #12, on the sharing economy, begins with an 1868 quote from Louisa May Alcott: "Cast your bread upon the waters & it will come back buttered." Amen!

Well, here are a few loaves of ZERO-priced bread, and along with equally priced "MOAP" I hope you will find some nourishing bits!

Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference

Logistics have always been important. No doubt of it. (My first slide is a quote from General Omar Bradley, commander of U.S. forces on D-day: "Amateurs talk about strategy. Professionals talk about logistics." Incidentally, the 70th anniversary of D-Day is just two weeks away.) But, if possible, the role of the logistics—supply chain—exec is becoming more important. By an order of magnitude. In the "Age of the Internet of Everything" and "Social Business" ... everything truly is connected to everything else. And concocting and managing and harvesting maximum value from this ubiquitous web/moving target is arguably Corporate Job ONE.

Hence, I am at once excited and cowed by the opportunity to speak at Gartner's 10th annual supply chain bosses' get-together. (Among other things, the conference includes the announcement of Gartner's "2013 Supply Chain Top 25.")

You'll find my slides here—in long and short form. We are also including a paper that seems particularly apropos, "Systems Have Their Place: Second Place." It acknowledges, with 10 supporting case studies—the centrality of excellent systems, but also the necessity for a supportive culture to be in place if their yield is in any way to be maximized.

Gartner PPT Final
Gartner PPT Long

Inc.’s Top 50

On 12 May 2014, posted a list of Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts. The purpose behind the listing was "to find out which people are globally the most popular management and leadership writers in the English language." Tom makes it into the ranks at #12. Our thanks go to for the commendation!

Cool Friend: Dennis Littky

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.

Dennis Littky's CF interview

9 to 4,096

As most of you know, our MOAP/Mother Of All Presentations is posted at 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.

The PPT slides are available below:
Mauritius, Final
Mauritius, Long


The following is the Executive Summmary from my 603-page superdoc (Ed.: Now 624: 21 April): "Excellence. NO EXCUSES." You'll find it below, and also in PDF and PowerPoint formats.


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.
(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 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."

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:
(Listening can be ... TAUGHT. Listening PER SE is a ... PROFESSION. Are YOU a "stellar professional listener"? THINK ABOUT IT. PLEASE.)

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:

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):
Why not?
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.)

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: That all-important ... "LAST 99 PERCENT.")

BIG Data.

Consider ...

"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

Update: Excellence. NO EXCUSES!

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!


Puzzled at work? Discover ways to put Tom’s ideas into Action.