In Search Of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies

In Search Of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies

The "Greatest Business Book of All Time" (Bloomsbury UK), In Search of Excellence has long been a must-have for the boardroom, business school, and bedside table.Based on a study of forty-three of America's best-run companies from a diverse array of business sectors, In Search of Excellence describes eight basic principles of management -- action-stimulating,...

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Title:In Search Of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies
Author:Thomas J. Peters
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In Search Of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies Reviews

  • David McClendon, Sr

    Way back in the 1980s few people in business gave much thought to what makes an excellent business. Peters and Waterman conducted research on companies they identified as excellent. What they found were some common threads among the truly excellent companies.

    Being counted as an excellent company today is no guarantee that the company will be excellent in the future. The bar of excellence is constantly being raised and, in today’s economy, lowered.

    If you are a business student, this is among the

    Way back in the 1980s few people in business gave much thought to what makes an excellent business. Peters and Waterman conducted research on companies they identified as excellent. What they found were some common threads among the truly excellent companies.

    Being counted as an excellent company today is no guarantee that the company will be excellent in the future. The bar of excellence is constantly being raised and, in today’s economy, lowered.

    If you are a business student, this is among the books you should read. Also, if you are looking for business research, with a little business history thrown in, you should read Built to Last by James C. Collins and Jerry Porras and Good to Great by Jim Collins.

    In Search of Excellence explains how Peters and Waterman conducted their research and then what they found. They give us some insight into the excellent companies and what makes them tick.

    The book is a business classic. If you were in management back in the 1980s, you were probably compelled to read this book. The Fast Track Management program I was in made this required reading.

    This book has been a part of my business library for years. I don’t remember where I bought it.

  • Víctor R. Ramos

    In Search of Excellence was one of the 1980's best-selling books.

    The authors analyzed some successful companies attempting to identify the eight attributes they had in common.

    Since then, more than half of those "excellent" companies disappeared, got acquired and disassembled, or went through extreme difficulties, indicating that the eight attributes were just simply things the companies did well at the time, but were not the answer to long term success.

    However, this book is still a good read for

    In Search of Excellence was one of the 1980's best-selling books.

    The authors analyzed some successful companies attempting to identify the eight attributes they had in common.

    Since then, more than half of those "excellent" companies disappeared, got acquired and disassembled, or went through extreme difficulties, indicating that the eight attributes were just simply things the companies did well at the time, but were not the answer to long term success.

    However, this book is still a good read for those wishing to track the evolution of management to present days.

  • Jen Feldmann

    After leaving my position as CEO of a small IT company after its new owner, an arrogant Wharton MBA, made my life hell, I decided to spend some time revisiting the old time business classics. While "In Search of Excellence, Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies" is truly an oldie, with several of the cited companies no longer in existence, and most no longer "great" companies, I think many of the concepts hold true: Be close to the customer, treat employees like adults, small is beautiful,

    After leaving my position as CEO of a small IT company after its new owner, an arrogant Wharton MBA, made my life hell, I decided to spend some time revisiting the old time business classics. While "In Search of Excellence, Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies" is truly an oldie, with several of the cited companies no longer in existence, and most no longer "great" companies, I think many of the concepts hold true: Be close to the customer, treat employees like adults, small is beautiful, try new things...good reminders for people who have been in business a long time, and good basic precepts for newbies.

  • Scott Dinsmore

    Why I Read this Book: I was interested to know what it is that makes companies excellent. If I plan to do any type of work at all, be it start a business or work for one, it is fundamental to understand how the great companies of the world have done it.

    Review:

    Most of you have probably heard of McKinsey & Company, Inc. For those of you who have not, let me quickly note that McKinsey & Company is the most prestigious top tier management and strategic consulting firm in this world. The

    Why I Read this Book: I was interested to know what it is that makes companies excellent. If I plan to do any type of work at all, be it start a business or work for one, it is fundamental to understand how the great companies of the world have done it.

    Review:

    Most of you have probably heard of McKinsey & Company, Inc. For those of you who have not, let me quickly note that McKinsey & Company is the most prestigious top tier management and strategic consulting firm in this world. The majority of its clients are of similar rank and stature. Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, the two authors of this book, have many years of combined experience working at McKinsey & Company. This experience led them to decide to go out and find the most successful companies in existence and understand what values, principles and techniques made them this way. This was their “search of excellence”.

    I had the pleasure of growing up around my father who spent the first part of his career after business school at McKinsey & Company while Waterman and Peters were in their tenure. Many of the stories he has shared over the years relate back to what he learned being around what he describes as “the sharpest and brightest people in the world”. As far as I’m concerned, the road to McKinsey & Company lead him to a rarely-traveled place in the world that he may not have seen otherwise.

    Tom Peters and Bob Waterman are amazing. As you read through the often dense, but intriguing chapters full of examples and stories from the best run companies in the world, you will begin to notice that only a very small bit of their findings are really groundbreaking. You might say “sure, that obviously makes sense” and “I would do that if I ran a company”. As we should all know by now, common sense is not common practice. My guess is that most companies, both large and small, know these fundamentals and best practices. The key difference between being good and being excellent is that few companies have been able to take that knowledge and transform it into reality and in turn into excellence. This is the true story of the ones that did.

    What is most valuable about this read is that it is the type of book that can relate to any business situation that you encounter whether you are the employee or the boss and owner. This book was written over 20 years ago and it is still 100% relevant and applicable to business as we know it today. It is to every single person’s advantage to understand what it takes to be excellent. You may not be in charge of a big company, you may not be in charge of a big division, and you may not even be in charge of a small company or division. What is important to remember is that at any and every point in your life, you are in charge of the success of something. I can assure you that you will always be in charge of something in your career. And we all know that we are the presidents and CEO’s of our own success.

    It is up to us to create and find the excellence in every part of our life. This book provides a perfect modelfor excellence. Read it, understand it, and allow it to live in your business and personal life. I wish you well with your search for excellence. May it never end.

    -Reading for Your Success

  • Jon

    One of the better business books out there. Still relevant 30 years after it was written, providing me much insight and wisdoem on how to motivate and lead by Dr. Peters study of excellent companies and why they succeed. More or less and I'm finding this to be a common theme, its the people in the organization and how they are managed that creates long-term success. A company is short-sighted if they think it is any one product alone because in this age with exponential competition, we must rely

    One of the better business books out there. Still relevant 30 years after it was written, providing me much insight and wisdoem on how to motivate and lead by Dr. Peters study of excellent companies and why they succeed. More or less and I'm finding this to be a common theme, its the people in the organization and how they are managed that creates long-term success. A company is short-sighted if they think it is any one product alone because in this age with exponential competition, we must rely on the human capital to innovate, create and motivate a company's long-term success.

  • Ramy Khodeir

    A must read for every business executive

  • Hugh Evans

    Would have had 5 stars had this been 1990.

  • Lauren Sheil

    I've read this book before. It was called every business book ever written ever. I realize this was one of the first and was ground breaking in its day but now its been reduced to a cliche. The books that followed are more detailed and more relevant for today's world. If you're interested in history fine but if you want practical advice for today don't waste your time with this one.

  • Rohan Monteiro

    Read this during my MBA days.

    I'm going to quote from another book (Standard Deviations by Gary Smith) which I highly recommend and which might provide some perspective here

    "McKinsey, one of the world’s top consulting firms, asked two obscure consultants, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, to take a look at several successful companies. Peters and Waterman talked to other McKinsey consultants and came up with a list of forty-three companies with good reputations and strong financials. They then

    Read this during my MBA days.

    I'm going to quote from another book (Standard Deviations by Gary Smith) which I highly recommend and which might provide some perspective here

    "McKinsey, one of the world’s top consulting firms, asked two obscure consultants, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, to take a look at several successful companies. Peters and Waterman talked to other McKinsey consultants and came up with a list of forty-three companies with good reputations and strong financials. They then talked to managers and read magazine stories, looking for common themes. This rather casual study was the basis for their wildly influential and successful book, In Search of Excellence, which identified eight common factors that Peters and Waterman found in these forty-three excellent companies—for example, a bias for action and being close to the consumer.

    This, was a backward-looking study. There is no way of knowing whether companies with a “bias for action,” whatever that means, were more successful than other companies, or whether companies that had been excellent in the past would be excellent in the future.

    Thirty-five of these forty-three companies have publicly traded stock. Since the book was published, fifteen have done better than the overall stock market, twenty worse. Collins, Peters, and Waterman do not provide any evidence that the characteristics they describe were responsible for these companies’ past success. To do that, they would have had to provide a theoretical justification for these characteristics. There is inherent survivor bias. If we think we know any secrets for success, a valid way to test our theory would be to identify businesses or people with these traits and see how they do over the next ten or twenty or fifty years. Otherwise, we are just staring at the past instead of predicting the future."

    **************End verbatim from Standard deviations**********

    Another way to put this - You can't look at just a bunch of successful companies and identify commonalities. You'll see pattern even in random number tables.

    You need to say "Does this hypothesis hold good" i.e instead of selecting successful companies and looking at what is common between them, look at a larger list including unsuccessful companies and see if those factors of success exist there as well. If they exist there, then maybe , those factors don't make that much of a difference after all. That is what tells you how good or bad your model is.

  • Michael

    Boring.

    I listened to the audio version of the book and it was slow and painful. Their ideas are good, but the prolong examples were more matter than meat. This is a book that is better skimmed than read.

    I read the book in Dec 2008 and some of the companies mentioned either don't exist or have been bought up by others. I would really like to see a follow up to the book and see how the companies are doing and if the priciples Peters extols have worked.

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