Books : reviews

Tom Peters, Robert H. Waterman Jr.
In Search of Excellence.
Harper Collins. 1982

rating : 3 : worth reading

Tom Peters, Nancy Austin.
A Passion for Excellence: the leadership difference.
Fontana. 1985

rating : 3 : worth reading

Tom Peters.
Thriving on Chaos: handbook for a management revolution.
Pan. 1987

rating : 2.5 : great stuff

Tom Peters.
Liberation Management.
Pan. 1992

rating : 2 : great stuff

Tom Peters.
The Pursuit of Wow!: every person's guide to topsy-turvy times.
Macmillan. 1994

rating : 3 : worth reading

Tom Peters.
The Circle of Innovation: you can't shrink your way to greatness.
Coronet. 1997

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 14 March 2000

Tom Peters talks and writes with great enthusiasm and passion for his subject. But unfortunately this book does not provide the "added value" the printed word can give over a lecture: detail and depth. Here that added value is mostly missing, because the book is structured as if it were a series of talks. So alternate pages are large, low information density "slides", with the remaining pages being the equivalent of talk notes (and the notes make copious use of h-y-p-h-e-n-s and CAPITALS and exclamation points!!!!, which doesn't exactly make them transparently easy to read). Sometimes you get to read the same thing three times within a double page -- once on the slide, once in the text, and once as a highlight. [The wondrous thing about books, with their potential for non-linear reading order, is that you can read the same thing three times even if it is printed only once.] So I was left feeling a bit short-changed.

Don't get me wrong: what is here is all good stuff. We've done business process re-engineering, we've done quality -- everything is now of the same high standard. Quality is now expected, now "ho hum", it doesn't differentiate you from your competitors. So Tom Peters is bubbling about the new differentiators -- design, service, innovation -- and that innovation requires risk, wackiness, diversity. But it is only bubbling: I kept wanting more examples, more detail, more substance. Like the earlier books had.