Re-printed many times since and published in multiple languages, the book was based on their study of forty-three US based companies that were deemed as best-in-class.
In Search Of Excellence is regarded by some authorities as one of the greatest business books ever written.
For those of you who are not familiar with the book, Peters & Waterman’s core ideas came down to eight characteristics of excellent companies as having or being…
- bias for action,
- close to the customer,
- autonomy and entrepreneurship,
- productivity through people,
- hands-on values driven,
- stick to the knitting,
- simple form and lean staff
- simultaneous loose-tight properties
In regards to my question of relevance, I actually think these eight characteristics are more relevant today than they were thirty years ago.
Let me explain…
When I was researching my doctoral thesis that investigated the question of what drove excellence in global outsourcing, there were some overarching principles that Peters & Waterman identified that were similar to my own research findings.
In short, it was in many ways, having an aligned vision for excellence.
When a vision for excellence was present and importantly aligned across the client and the service provider organisations, then there was a higher likelihood that excellence was generally aspired to. Without this vision however, then mediocracy at best, was achieved within the outsourcing engagement.
Now of course there were other factors, but let me ask you these questions…
Do you today, in your business, understand what excellence is?
Do you have a vision for excellence, or a standard that you can look to?
Do you seek out to achieve excellence?
…and importantly do you share this vision with your partners and have the buy in from them to achieve it with you as well?
My view is that the concept of excellence, though acknowledged as something important and even placed in mission and values statements, is seldom expected as the way of doing things – the norm of the collective culture.
Yes of course all businesses have those great individuals that demonstrate excellence everyday – because that is part of their individual value system and identity – but what about the broader business and collective tribe? What about your extended relationships that transcend company structures, nationalities and cultures – what about excellence in your global outsourcing ecosystem?
You cannot expect excellence if you are not embracing it yourself and in today’s world where end-to-end customer value chains are made up of an extended ecosystem of multiple parties, the consequences to your customer’s experience can be catastrophic.
Sadly, I believe excellence in business is not being pursued to the level it should be. But I also believe that if it were to be, it could be a game changer for businesses large and small.
In global outsourcing there are numerous complexities, but at the end of the day, the human element, the manual interventions and customer experiences are the result of attitudes of individuals who are part of teams who work in departments as part of organisations.
To embrace excellence in our complex global outsourcing ecosystems today is about having that vision of what excellence is and working together in partnership to achieve it. Leadership is the conduit in initiating this vision.