In Search of Excellence Book Report

The book In Search of Excellence
was written by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman in the  80s, with a long-lasting best-selling record
that essentially made the book a classic in the business field. Keeping in mind
the relevant business concepts and the potential factors that are crucial to
the success of a business, I aim to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of
this book, therefore explore the impacts it has on both individual businesses
and on the society as a whole. The authors proposed innovative ideas that
redefined what was crucial to achieving success in the field. After closely
examining various companies that paved their ways to huge success, Peters and
Waterman specifically pointed out eight themes that could lead a business to
excellence. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss those central themes
that the authors brought forward in the book and analyze their intentions.

The
phenomenon that gave the authors their major inspiration to the themes was the
unique management methods of Japanese companies. In their early years as
college students, the authors came up with the foundations of what are truly
important to a business after observing the management styles of Japanese
companies and conducting a model based on McKinsey’s 7-S Framework: structure,
strategy, systems, style of management, skills, staff, and shared values. The
first theme, also the first chapter of the book, is therefore a bias for
action. According to Peters and Waterman, determinism and the ability to act
upon his or her decisions is undoubtedly one of the most important traits for a
successful entrepreneur. Although plenty of people have had ideas that might
lead off a great path, only a small portion of them actually have the courage
and ambition to walk down that path and take the responsibilities, along with
the potential risks. Launching something brand new and getting out of one’s
comfort zone are always intimidating and challenging, however, it is also the
only way to achieve success. Maintaining great work ethics and keeping up the
energy along the way give a future entrepreneur the stance to overcome future
difficulties that he or she encounters.

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Although
determinism is a crucial factor to the success of a business, the authors place
equal value on the importance of people. As emphasized in the book, the
importance of customers is another central theme viewed as essential by the
authors. They consider customers as the best source a company can learn from,
which also provides them a different perspective about their own products and
helps them generate new ideas. Therefore, maintaining a long-lasting and mutually
beneficial relationship with customers not only provides insights to the
mechanisms in the actual market, but also helps the entrepreneurs with
introspecting their own businesses. The underlying implication behind this
theme is the principle of market-driven strategies. In order to obtain a
broader and more objective view of the market, the best way is to maintain a
close relationship with the customers.

Nevertheless,
the authors also put great value on autonomy in respect to encouraging a
creative and innovative environment in the organization. This theme roots in
the belief that rather than simply and blindly following the corporate rules,
allowing room for innovation, even mistakes is better for the overall growth of
a company. From the micro-perspective of an individual, autonomy leads to
personal satisfaction, which directly yields stronger motivation. In the
perspective of an entrepreneur who is striking to achieve success, autonomy
leads to greater capacity and countless possibilities. Moreover, autonomy can
also foster a sense of self-reliance, which has profound psychological
implications that are crucial to the development of an entrepreneur. By
pointing out and emphasizing this theme, Tom Peters, and Robert Waterman places
undeniable value on the guiding aim of oneself, regardless of any external
factors. The authors essentially believe that with an emphasized attention on
autonomy in business education, future entrepreneurs will become more
responsible and self-determined.

Another
theme that is stressed by the authors is the hands-on and value-driven business
philosophy. This is arguably the simplest yet most crucial principle to the
operation of any business. This idea of value-driven represents a belief of
prioritizing the company’s guideline over any other events or resources, which
not only increases productivity, but also enhances motivation for individuals.
Therefore, correctly placing value on a company’s objective becomes the primary
focus. Furthermore, this process also requires wise management to strike for
that objective. As an aspiring entrepreneur, one must bear in mind the mission
and methods of achieving what the company truly places value on, and therefore
generate a motivating yet profit-oriented objective. Regardless of circumstances,
the driving force behind an individual or a corporation’s actions and decisions
is the basis for any successful business.

The
mechanism behind those themes is based on the fundamental business models and
principles, which have profound influences on any future entrepreneurs or
business executives. Therefore, the book In Search of Excellence not only
provides a brand new viewpoint for the business field on conducting an
effective business model, but also ground-breaking ideas that helped numerous companies
and individuals to achieve their own success. The strength of the book is its
relatable and supported business philosophies, which provided insights for both
young adults who wish to start their own businesses and existing businesses
that hope to obtain a new perspective of thinking. However, the book also has
its weakness. One major criticism centers around the metrics that the author used
to determine the successful businesses. Critics also point out the fact that
the examination of already well-preforming companies cannot serve as the sole
evidence of the effects of those success-determining traits. Therefore, to some
extent, the book lacks solid cause-effect evidence that can prove the causal
relationship of the traits mentioned in the book and the success achieved by
those companies. In my eyes, despite the controversies on the validity of the
traits mentioned in the book, the authors provided a thorough analysis and
examination of what determines the excellence of any business. Therefore, I would
recommend this book as a must-read for anyone interested in business or
entrepreneurship since it changed my perspective of viewing seemingly simple
business philosophies.

 

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