Tom Peter’s “The Living Guru of Gurus”

contribution to Management Sciences

In the book “In search of excellence”, Tom Peters focused on 43 successful companies and sought to analyze the reasons for their success over 20 years. He concluded that they relied more on stories than statistics and charts. This formulated the eight characteristics of excellence.

Eight characteristics of excellence: -

· Excellent companies has bias for an action, they were doers.

· They were close to the customers; they understood their clients’ needs.

· They had autonomy and entrpreneurship. They were independent and innovative.

· They believed in productivity through people, the staff mattered.

· They were hands on, and value driven, they got on with the job.

· They stuck to the knitting; they only did what they did best.

· They had simple form and lean staff, no unnecessary divisions.

· They had tight loose structures, tight control where it mattered, loose

Control where they gave people autonomy.

· They were absolute, new concepts at that time.

In “Search of Excellence” he insisted that: -

Action beats talk!

People Matter!

Customers are why we exist!

Vision and Values are more important than policy manuals!

Keep the structure very simple and radically decentralized!

Nurture entrepreneurial spirit, even in the biggest of companies!

Tom Peters has suggested several checkpoints for analyzing the health of a company.

These all need to be in harmony with each other. Today these concepts have become the part of the common language of management After these initial checklists and recipes, Tom Peters propose that the hierarchies of the big organizations were what are holding them back. He sought to put people, creativity, technology and speed at center stage. He proclaimed, “Crazy times call for Crazy organizations”

Some of the major suggestions made by Tom Peters are as follows-

Eliminate Beurocratic structures and subdivide in to spunky units with their own personalities and disrespect for chiefs

Hire curious people

Go for youth

Teach and measure curiosity

Support off-beat education

Give people generous sabbaticals

Insist that everyone take vacations

Most importantly, make it fun

Another philosophy proposed by Tom Peters says that: -

For firms to remain in business they need to task every form in to a project.

An identifiable job at work with a beginning and end.

They must then allow to individuals to assign themselves to those projects as constancy firms already do.

Merits/ Impact

The major contribution of Tom Peters to the field of management has been in the form of Eight characteristics of excellence and Seven “S“ framework which has today become buzzword in the modern management crisis.

The various suggestions given by Tom Peters by time to time have had a major impact on the decision making process of the modern managers.


Tom Peters is not a typical management philosopher. Rather than proposing all embarrassing theories of the world of organizations or any fancy formulae, he prefers analyzing the organizations by getting under their skin

His ideas are closer to reality and real life and expressed in equally earthy language.

A brief introduction to Tom Peters

· He was born in 1942 at Baltimore in USA.

· A postgraduate from Cornell University engineering school.

· MBA and Ph.D. from the prestigious Stanford University.

· Served on active duty in the US Navy in Vietnam and Washington from 1966 to 1970.

· From 1973 to 1974 worked as a senior Whitehouse Drug Abuse Advisor.

· From 1974 to 1981 worked at McKinsey and Company and partner at McKinsey in 1977.

· Chairman of Tom Peters Company

· A fellow of The International Academy of Management, World Productivity Association, International Customer Service Association and Society for Quality and Participation.

· In his words, he has about 2,000 seminars and 5,000,000 air miles to his credits since “82.

· Professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

· Fortune magazine calls him the Ur-guru (guru of gurus) of management

Management Scenario before Peters and after Peters

All previous thinkers have given due emphasis on the infrastructure.

Tom Peters have given due emphasis on the human factor.

A major shift in the philosophies and teachings of Tom Peters from those by the philosophers of yesteryears is that it looks at an organization as the part of the dynamic society of which it is a constituent rather than as an entity.

“If individual grow, the organization grows.”


Liberation by Tom Peters

The Handy Guide to the Gurus of Management

by Charles Handy


19th September 2006 From India, New Delhi

Manager- Hr

Great...... The hierarchies of the big organizations are holding them back is very much true.It’s a lesson & massage for these companies if they want to survive in near or distant future.
8th October 2006 From India, Pune
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