Survival Strategies

Tom Peters

Each day, new competitors emerge, new technologies arrive, product life cycles shrink anew. Here, in short form, are 32 “must do” strategies for survival.

1. Within 90 days, triple spending authority throughout the firm, from the mail clerk to the division general manager.

2. Insist on a maximum of two levels of management between the “bottom” and the “top” in any division-size unit.

3. In every facility, review detailed operating results with all hands each week.

4. Recognize training as a research and development expenditure; fund it with 3 percent of gross revenues.

5. Almost all business can be done in virtually independent operating units of 250 or less people (with their own boards of directors, including outsiders): Reorganize accordingly within the year.

6. Within the next nine months, eliminate ALL first-line supervisors.

7. Within the next year, devolve one-third of all staffers at the division level or above to customer-focused operating units, then another third the following year. Within five years, reduce headquarters staff to a maximum of 10 people per billion dollars in revenue (and no hiding “temporary assignees” stolen from the division around the corner.)

8. Require remaining members of all “central” (corporate, division) staffs to sell their services to line units at market rates; allow those line units, in turn, to buy any and all services from anybody, anywhere.

9. Make evaluation by subordinates a key component of bosses’ performance appraisals.

10. Eliminate all job descriptions. Now.

11. Destroy all organization charts. Now.

12. All top corporate/divisional managers: Pledge two days per month to customer visits, two days per month to supplier and distributor visits.

13. Make sure that every person in the organization makes at least two customer visits a year.

14. Publicly traded companies: Sell to the public substantial minority interest in half of your business units within the next three years.

15. Aim for one-third employee ownership of the corporation within five years.

16. Chief executive officers and division general managers: Within the next 12 months, promote to a position of significant responsibility at least one rabble-rouser who doesn’t like you or agree with you (on much of anything).

17. Make the words glow, tingle, thrill, wow, dazzle, and delight the primary bases for evaluating the quality of all your products and services—i.e., do customers “like” your service, or are they “gaga” over it?

18. Each year, have customers systematically evaluate every one of your quality and service measures.

19. The 10 senior members of corporate management: At the next industry trade show, demo the most sophisticated product your outfit makes.

20. Finance and accounting staff: Spend at least one day a week in the “field” with internal customers (half your performance appraisal should be based on evaluations designed and executed by “customers”).

21. Make a weekly award in every unit, starting with work teams, to the person who surfaces the stupidest thing the company has done.

22. Subcontract at least 25 percent of R&D, half to organizations no more than one-tenth your size.

23. Base 25 percent of executive incentive compensation on the share of revenue from new products and services introduced within the last 24 months.

24. At the division level, identify the top 25 “horizontal” processes (e.g., product development), map them carefully, and undertake a clean-sheet-of-paper revision of each one within the next three years.

25. Reduce total cycle time for everything by one-third in the next two years, another third in the following two years.

26. Sell off the corporate art collection and every piece of executive and boardroom furniture costing more than $500.

27. Vacate all facilities more than three stories high.

28. Physically integrate all functions within the next 24 months.

29. Aim to have women occupy at least 20 percent of vice president/division general manager slots within five years.

30. Unless you are a local service company (restaurant, etc.), achieve a significant international market presence within three years, if your revenue is greater than $3 million.

31. Make sure that at least 25 percent of attendees at off-site meetings are “outsiders” (customers, vendors, etc.).

32. In companies of $100 million revenue or greater, add corporate vice president positions for the following: knowledge management, perceived quality and brand-equity management, innovation, industrial design, horizontal-systems integration. (Incumbents will each be supported by a one-person professional

That should keep you busy.

(C) 1992 TPG Communications.

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