Podcast & Book Reviews

Book Review | In Search of Excellence: Robert H Waterman Jr. and Tom Peters

January 28, 2020

Book Review | In Search of Excellence: Robert H Waterman Jr. and Tom Peters

Book Review | In Search of Excellence: Robert H Waterman Jr. and Tom Peters

By Ben Rundle | Portfolio Manager at NAOS Asset Management

In Search of Excellence was first published in 1982, so I am late to discover it, however this is an excellent book and in my view is just as relevant today as it was at publication. The authors performed extensive research in the late 1970’s to come up with what they thought were the key attributes of a successful business. They examined 43 successful American companies including IBM, Procter & Gamble, Boeing, Delta Airlines and McDonald’s and defined 8 attributes of excellence that applied to the best companies. These attributes include;

  1. A Bias for Action
    • Read: Getting s**t done
  2. Closeness to the Customer
    • The best companies are obsessed with their customers
  3. Autonomy and Entrepreneurship
    • Encouraging risk taking and innovation
  4. Productivity Through People
    • Culture and work environment are excellent
  5. Hands on, Value-Driven
    • Discuss company values openly and make sure everyone knows them
  6. Stick to the Knitting
    • Focus on what the core competencies are
  7. Simple Form, Lean Staff
    • Fewer management layers, open access to people
  8. Simultaneous Loose-Tight Properties
    • Find a mix of freedom and direction. Be open-minded

Despite these principles being around for so long and proving successful over so many years, we regularly meet with companies who rarely follow any of them. It is no secret that companies who follow similar methods of running their business, often do better than their competition.


Link to book