Author Archives: Tom Peters

The Practice of Excellence

Limits Thereto. Or Not? by Tom Peters As you doubtless know, one of my signature phrases is… EXCELLENCE. Always. I mean it! But what does it mean? Someone joked, “Excellence in leadership! Excellence in innovation! Excellence in management! Excellence in excellence!” That is, the phrase can readily be reduced to meaninglessness or even absurdity. Fact is, some tasks are not worth pursuing to the point of excellence. (Maybe, more in a minute.) That is, life for all of us contains lots of B.S. that one must simply “get through.” Or, as a work-at-home mom of two said to me, “surviving the next hour seems more than enough challenge.” Amen! Hence, on the one hand, I acknowledge reality—for you and me, let alone the beleaguered mom. But I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel. Hall of Fame San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh sat for interviews shortly before he … Continue reading

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Nobody disagrees with the fact that there are few things and maybe no things these days that are more important than innovation. I just want to add one small twist to that and it’s what I call my Innovation Equality Act. And what I mean by that is, when we think of research and development, we almost always think of new product development. Well, here is my iron law, my request, my command, my rule:Innovation and R&D budgets of significance are equally important in every single piece of the organization.They are important in the logistics function. They are important in the purchasing function. They are important in the HR function. They are important in the finance function. That is, innovation (and R&D) is about every single nook and cranny within the organization. It’s not just a marketing thing. It’s not just a new product development thing. Think about it. An … Continue reading

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PR is about the story, not relationships

Maybe 10-20 years ago, PR was more about the relationships you had with the right press. Reporters and their publications were the gatekeeper to getting your story heard, and PR professionals were the gatekeeper to those gatekeepers. But even then, relationships were only as good (and ultimately as successful) as the story you had to offer.Today, story matters more than ever. Yes, a good relationship with press helps you break through the clutter and get a few extra minutes to pitch your story. But a good story stands on its own.Plus, you don’t have to rely on a finite set of traditional media outlets to give your story a voice to the masses. Today, you can publish on your own. Self-publishing won’t have the audience others have, but that’s not the point. Share that story in a public forum, that both press and your direct customers/prospects/constituents can read, and a … Continue reading

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Skunk Works of Innovation

If the numbering in this post doesn’t seem to jive with yesterday’s, that’s because the list of 110 tactics seems to have grown in the course of the week; we’ve adjusted accordingly.Adhocracy. Love It or Leave It.Projects “emerge.” Recall “spontaneous discovery process,” our item #3. Most projects invent themselves, rather than being the product of a formal planning process; and their growth into something big is also mostly organic. An effective culture of innovation is largely ad hoc—which drives many senior managers crazy. If they can’t “get it,” then they don’t belong.Leadership is on the fly. Things change rapidly. Teams are born and teams die. Yesterday’s leader is today’s follower – and vice versa. Developing “on the fly” leadership skills is no walk in the park. First, it must be perceived as a describable and learnable skill. (Hint: Women are better at this than men. Arguably, much better.)Plan-less-ness. If your … Continue reading

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This is the third of four parts of the list of 110 Innovation Tactics.Click here to view Part One – Innovation Tactics #1-16Click here to view Part Two – Innovation Tactics #17-42Celebration!Celebrate! Innovative organizations are places where people enjoy their peers’ work, good tries, good screw-ups, milestones reached, etc. Celebrating these events, large and small and very small, is a fullscale part of the “innovation culture.”Celebrate failures. This peculiar form of celebration deserves particular mention. “Fast failure” is innovation’s bedrock. Hence the encouragement thereof, rather than the stigmatization, is of paramount importance. Hence, the hearty celebration of the quick try run amok is of strategic importance.R&D, Ubiquity of – “Staff Department” R&D ParamountR&D spending/Overall. This is a “boring” staple of innovation, but obviously of great importance. Aggressiveness is called for. In addition to the firm itself, having, say, a set of vendors, most or all of whom are top-quartile in … Continue reading

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Tom Peters, Innovation Tactics and Lunch

This is the second of four parts of the list of 110 Innovation Tactics.Click here to view Part One – Innovation Tactics #1-16We Are What We Eat. (And Who We Hang Out With.)Hang out/”We are what we eat” We are what we eat/We are who we co-habit with, and variants thereof are of infinite importance to the effective innovator. Managing “the hang-out factor” is of the utmost strategic importance – and usually an under-tended lever.Hang out/Basic axiom. Hang out with weird – get more weird. Hang out with dull – get more dull.Hang out/Customer portfolio. Consider one’s customer portfolio. Perhaps a few giant customers account for 85% of one’s revenues. One must listen to them, but the odds are that these giants are relatively conservative. Hence one must purposefully and urgently recruit oddball-”on the frontier” customers. Their revenue stream may be limited, but these folks force you to play with … Continue reading

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Innovate or Die

Recession or no recession, deep recession or not, the challenge to add more and more value grows, and the importance of innovation, and a culture of innovation, grows exponentially. A “culture of innovation” covers “everything.” There is no halfway. There, of course, are “first principles.” Or are there? I started a list of “stuff” that’s imperative to creating an innovative enterprise. The list of 10 or so grew to 25, then 45, and at the moment includes no less than 110 “tactics.” Of course you can’t do all of them. Or must you? Well, you can’t do all 110, or maybe even half that number, but the absence of any one or two or three or six weakens and perhaps even imperils the entire structure. Use what follows as you will. Trying Stuff. Screwing Stuff Up. Fast.Tries. Darwin rules. More stuff goin’ on, more interesting-good stuff happenin’. Innovation is to … Continue reading

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