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Peters and Waterman’s Eight Attributes of Excellence Essay

Some things can be learned about leadership by studying organizations directly. Tom Peters and Robert Waterman drew on their experience at Mckinsey and Company, a well-known consulting firm, and on further study of a number of businesses they identified as exceptional. Their message is that traditional methods of managing and leading need to be replaced with new methods and new modes of thought.

They provide a provocative perspective on the history and practice of management and leadership and identify eight attributes associates with excellence and innovation: a bias for action, staying close to the customer, autonomy and entrepreneurship, productivity through people, hands-on value driven, stick to the knitting, simple form-lean staff, and simultaneous loose-tight properties.

The Peters and waterman study used a fairly large sample of sixty-two financially successful firms across six industries that were considered to be excellent but did not attempt any comparison with unsuccessful firms. The Pride in Excellence team slowly transformed the three Peters and Waterman attributes into Toro values. They worked to translate the values into specific behaviors. They were pioneers, and they found few ready-made answers to their questions. Personal and company values systems became jumbled.

More than once, team members wondered how they could talk about this stuff at work and still be taken seriously. From the start, they concentrated on ways to get the values down to the level of individual jobs. This was relatively easy when talking about values such as Service or Quality. However, Toro wanted to adopt Peters and Waterman’s productivity through people attribute as well. That led to values such as Respect and Trust. Their final statement even uses the word “compassion. ”


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