Learnings from In Search of Excellence

July 30, 2010

If you’re familiar with management and leadership you’ve probably heard of the book, In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies.  It’s a classic management book published in the early eighties written by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman.

Over the past month I read through the book and found several of their research findings to still be very relevant today.  Here are two of those I would like to share with you.

  • A Bias for Action – Always be focused on “doing” and trying to create things.  It’s ok to create new things and it’s ok to fail.  The successful leaders at great companies allow their people to form teams and attempt all kinds of new things.  The companies don’t get too bogged down in meetings and administrative work.  Rather they keep small ad hoc committees and meetings where they can ebb and flow to be productive.  Communications are brief and fast.
  • Autonomy and Entrepreneurship – This was one of my favorite chapters in the book because it dealt with giving employees freedom to experiment, try new things, and fail.  In my soon to be released book, A Day of Hope: Leading Volunteers to Make a Difference in Your Community I talk about how you have to give volunteers the freedom they need to try things and figure them out.  This means they might fail here and there, but that’s going to happen with anyone.  Whether it’s a company or a volunteer based nonprofit program, people need to be given freedom to experiment and try new things.

Reading In Search of Excellence reminded me of another great management book based on successful companies, Good to Great
by Jim Collins.  It’s another classic business book that has lots of great insights
and discoveries about what successful companies do well.

My main reason for reading In Search of Excellence was to prepare me for another Tom Peters book entitled, A Passion for Excellence: The Leadership Difference.  It’s a leadership book I’m excited to read and look forward to sharing content with you about it.

My honest evaluation of In Search of Excellence is that it’s a little bit of a dry read.  That is coming from a nonprofit leader who likes to be entertained and read well written content.  For a hard nosed, left brained, logical CEO, this book might be right up your alley.

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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