In Search of Excellence: Review
In Search of Excellence is a book dealing with many different principles
of economics and what makes big business' excellent. The first idea that Peters
discusses is his chart of the McKinsey 7-S Framework. The graph is very simple
but the ideas are fairly complex. In their research, they found that their
philosophies were too hard to explain and easily forgettable. They made this
Framework to deal with strategy, structure, style, systems, staff (people),
skills, and shared values (culture). This has 7 S's (easy to remember) and a
graphical representation to visualize. This shows the businessman that the
intractable, irrational, intuitive, and informal organization can be managed.
For example, anyone assuming that a new manager of a Taco Bell will perform
exactly as the old manager did is ridiculous. The organization of workers must
adjust and adapt to the new manager's way of business.
Another more main topic of the novel is the Eight Basic Principles.
Their research had shown that the excellent companies had been based on the
basics. The companies had to try to keep things simple. Sometimes, to a big
business, it might seem logical that business should be run more complex the
larger it is. From their research, this is usually not true. The first
pricnciple is a bias for action. This is basically saying "Stop talking and do
something about it." When Taco Bell has a rush of customers and their supplies
for making food are low, they (usually) don't say "You know what, I have no more
cheese" or "Could someone get me some more cheese?" They take action and get the
cheese, make it if necessary, and get the problem solved as quickly as possible.
The second Principle they deal with is to be close to the customer. This
means good service and listening to what the customer has to say. If the
producer, Taco Bell, is not in touch with what the customer wants to eat, then
the business will most likely fail. Although it also refers to customer
satisfaction; quality food made right and curteous service: "Have a nice day and
enjoy your meal!"
The third principle is autonomy and entrepreneurship. This is the
innovation principle. 3M is known for innovation and they welcome the changing
and rearranging of old and new products. For example, my dad took 3M's basic
arthroscopy pump and redesigned it into an in flow-out flow cannula. This
innovation on his part temporarilly set 3M back on its feet in that product line.
The fourth basic principle is productivity through people. This deals
with the indivdual as the best means for efficiency improvement rather than
capital investment. If Taco Bell could put everyone in the area of work they
most enjoyed (drive-thru, washer,...) then they could produce more food and
maximize their utiles.
The fifth basic principle is hands on, value driven. This is the
standard setting and enforcing values in a company. This is keeping the "head
honcho" in touch with the assembly line worker and projecting the company's
original ideas, instead of an image of some suited businessman lurking in a big,
The sixth and often obvious principle is to stick to the knitting. The
basically says that if a company is in the food business, it should not branch
off into the wood industry unless they have no where else to expand in the
industry they are already in.
The seventh basic principle is a simple form, lean staff. This means
leaving few people up top to manage a company and keep the form of management
The eighth and final basic principle is simultaneous loose-tight
properties. This is another value-based principle. This could be described as
the ability for a worker of Taco Bell to do his/her job in his/her own way as
they incorporate the company's values and philosophies into their work. These
values demonstrate that they don't just work because they work, but rather
because they just make sense. Peters does a great job of explaining and giving
examples of these eight principles and shows us that we would be foolish to
ignore these principles. Also, we could learn a new skill from the 7 S-Framework,
, which is what growth is really about: the ability to learn and teach.
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