Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Being Tom Peters

In a recent post Tom Peters includes the new forward for a 2009 edition of his awesome imaginative book, Re-Imagine. I have written of Tom Peters quite often on this blog for his leadership in management and his passion for excellence. The forward, however, sparked me to create a post in appreciation for his many years of service to business and for inspiring so many people worldwide to think and do things differently. Re-Imagine is pure beauty, a creative business book and the new forward is relevant and expansive.

The overall tenet of the forward is so central to what's happening today that it clarifies and sets direction by, nonetheless, returning to the basics of forever beginning anew the fundamentals which will keep us in good stead in 21st Century. Excellence is Tom Peters' mantra. Excellence is and will always be the forever standard, for it is the basis of love. Anything that is done with excellence is done with love. There is nothing that we have ever done that is of significance that lacks love and excellence, no matter how small or large the feat or accomplishment. Thanks for this reminder.

Recently, I have written on this blog and on the Huffington Post using Peters' "managing by wandering around" to explain President Obama's leadership style. Yes, we all know that it will ultimately be the outcomes of his leadership that will matter most, but what we can say for sure is that it resembles Peters' MBWA which is essentially being present.

The President is seen everywhere. He has aimed high, created a plan, assembled a team, and manages by wandering around. Peters presents a series of E's that is also indicative of the President's leadership style: Engaged. Electronic. Encompassing. Emotion. Empathy. Experience. Eliminate. Errorprone. Evenhanded. Expectations. Eudiamonia. Excellence. The President has such high approval ratings for being and doing these things to a lesser or greater degree in his first 50 days. Let's hope he succeeds.

Peters writes of an "open and deliberate fashion, to helping people-e.g. the single mother trying to raise two kids on a receptionist salary-achieve their dreams." I so appreciate the example of the single working mother with children. Sometimes a mere image, as that of that single working mom with kids, breaks through in ways that printed words on a wall-plaque of set core values elude. The image breaks through the staid example of men in the workplace that we are so accustomed to embracing and allows for a greater sensibility to what others are experiencing and perhaps will change the dimension of ethics in the workplace as well as variance. This will affect what and how things are done.

Men, by and large, ran the global financial markets off the cliff. Men largely brought on this financial "Pearl Harbor," spoken of by Warren Buffett. I cannot help but to wonder would such have been the case with the inclusion of more women in decision-making. With or without approval change is coming, nationally and internationally. There is a beautiful necessity of the old-fashioned example of women being a help to men.

I'm sure some women may be railing right now at the above thought and some men perhaps thinking that they don’t need such help. But we are helpers one to another and everything needs to be taken in its context and in the light of everything else. Women may have made the difference. What are we doing in moving forward? Will we continue the same old same old in likeness and structure? How much change occurred after the S&L scandal?

While there are other models out there, when we think of organizational excellence we often think of the Welch model, especially those of a certain era. I have read Mr. Welch's books and have appreciated the principles therein. But it also may not be by coincidence that the large companies that have followed the GE model such as Home Depot and now Chrysler, where the leaders have been groomed in a particular management style and structure, are in such dire straights now. I really dunno. I'm no expert. This is just a mere observation. Maybe it's just the time.

Perhaps GE is in such straights because of GE Financial which seems to have engaged in bogus derivatives like the big Wall Street banks. Producing things seem to have become a side gig for this once great product producer. (Maybe bigger is not always better.) I also wonder about any leadership model that does not focus on small things and whose leaders are essentially cut from the same cloth, following the same model, industry after industry. Excellence is not a model; it's a forever pursuit, though I'm aware that structure is necessary.

Technology is becoming more and more of an intense interest to me for its ability to constantly create and innovate. It does not seem like a model but a constant necessity of change and continuous improvement—science on steroids, in fact. There is a pulse created that evades typical business models, though I'm sure that a structure of such exist in the thick of this culture. But the focus on pure innovation based on the desires and needs of people is most relevant and its impact in ways that Van Jones writes and speaks of is most important. Recently Peters wrote a post about the need for optimisim which included a look at what's happening in Silicon Valley; it was great for its insistence on innovation.

The model of innovating is invigorating. While technologies are being created, it is people who are doing so and jobs being created for the enjoyment and betterment of people in various industries worldwide, including the health industry. It is also a forever brand new world of seeing things differently. It is essentially one of science, one of discovery. Detroit has lagged behind in this and is now reaping the whirlwind. (Education nationwide is reaping such too! Bob Foster has a great piece about this on his blog, US Falling Behing in Innovation-Part 1". If nothing else, the pulse of the tech industry is needed, not to mention the science needed for its continuous development.

Tom Peters' new forward to an already incredible book is pure beauty and brilliance.

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