Tom Peters

Last night, after publishing my recent blog on Branding, I had a skype call from Toronto and my caller discussed on the theme. I recalled an article that I had stored and which sold the importance of branding.

“The circle of innovation” and was written by Tom Peters way back in 1997. The points raised then are still very pertinent today and perhaps more so in Mauritius which lags behind in market innovation. You will find for quick reading a one page summary of the book. I am a great fan of Tom and have been watching videos of him and reading his numerous books. Wow! A very energetic speaker he is and very convincing in both content as well as style.

By the way, Tom Peters maintains a blog which I read regularly. He is very generous and offers for free his latest speeches and lectures. I enjoy reading them.

Tom Peters preview of Innovation

I became obsessed with innovation because my clients, in effect, begged me to.

With global competition heating up, company after company–banks, insurers, Big Six accountancies, brokerages, office-furniture makers, packaged-goods firms, software and pharmaceutical houses, engineering services firms–tell me: “My service or product is becoming commoditized.”

If the other guy’s getting better, you’d better be getting better faster–or you’re getting worse.

Translation: It’s innovation, stupid.

And “It” applies to my career, your career, the six-person training department, and the 60,000-body behemoth.

My new book, Innovation, is about one BIG idea: innovation–a “top-line” obsession. And it’s about 15 discrete, biggish ideas. The Circle of Innovation is the overarching idea. Here’s a quick preview.

1. Distance is dead. We’re all next-door neighbors. Incrementalism is innovation’s worst enemy. Mid- to long-term: Business is about augmenting the top line, not cost minimization.

2. Destruction is cool! CDO: Chief Destruction Officer. Easier to kill an organization–and repot it–than change it substantially. Learn to swallow it: destruction is job 1 (before the competition does it to you).

3. You can’t live without an eraser. Forgetting–not learning–is the highest art. Think: organized forgetting, strategic forgetfulness. How? Cherish waste, silliness, failure. Ready. FIRE! Aim.

4. We are all Michelangelos. Convert every “jobholder” into a business person. Convert every job into a business. “Business” is a very different–and more encompassing–word than “empowerment.” Keys: trust and respect; Michelangelos of Housekeeping; Michelangelos of Telemarketing. Boss as relentless architect of the possibilities of human beings.

5. Welcome to the white collar revolution. If you can’t say (specifically) why you make your company a better place, you’re out! As of Now: Me, Inc.! Take me immediate responsibility for change! You (me) are a brand. (Perform a personal brand equity evaluation now!) There are no guarantees, and that can be liberating. Stomp out indentured servitude to BigCorp.

6. All value comes from the professional services. Make staff units the vital centers of intellectual capital accumulation, rather than the prime sources of bureaucratic drag. Tool: Turn purchasing (HR, IS, Finance) into Purchasing, Inc.–a full-fledged professional service firm–devoted to transformational projects and awesome client service!

7. The intermediary is doomed. (Big) organizations without employees. Every task your organization performs is performed better (higher quality, faster, more imaginatively) by some hyper-fast specialist (somewhere) who lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes the narrow task. Flat is too modest a term. (By far.) We are gutting the “center” of vertical enterprises. The intermediary is dying or dead! Hail the disintermediated network “organization”–transparent to its customers (and all members of the value-creation chain).

8. The system is the solution. Systems are the glue in ephemeral, network “orgs.” Great systems are not about “nuts and bolts.” They can be beautiful. Systems Engineering Dept.? No! Dept. of Beauty? Yes! It’s way beyond reengineering.

9. Create waves of lust. (Almost) everything works. Quality per se is not the advantage it once (recently) was. So: Just shout “No!” to commoditization (of anything) /me-too/look-alikes. Embrace: WOW!!!! lusted-after products and services. Ultimate sin: When we do it “Right,” It’s still pretty ordinary.

10. Tommy Hilfiger knows. In a (very) crowded marketplace . . . branding is (far) more important than ever before. It is . . . the age of the brand! Anything can be branded (e.g., chicken, milk). Branding is as much for very wee outfits as for Levis or Nike or starbucks or Intel (Inside).

11. Become a connoisseur of talent. Recruit diversity! Hire crazies! Make revolutionary renewal everyone’s (literal) Job 1. We are all RDAs: Rapidly Depreciating Assets. Therefore: (Continuing) Vitality=(Continuing) Commitment to (Bold/Formal) Renewal Programs by everyone.

12. It’s a woman’s world. Women purchase. They are purchasing agents for well over half the U.S. GDP (commercial and consumer goods). Almost no Big Co.–financial services, healthcare, autos, business services–“gets” catering-to-women-as-premier-purchasers. Why? It takes total transformation–not a “women’s initiative”–to take advantage of this bizarrely neglected commercial opportunity No. 1.

13. Little things are the only things. As markets get more and more crowded, design is often the best “tool” in services and manufacturing for sustainable differentiation. Sad fact: Most companies do anything but OBSESS (e.g., Braun-like, Sony-like) on design. Personal design sensitization is Set No. 1: Home in on (open your eyes to) the pervasive role that design plays in damn near everything–signage, forms, typeface, color (a big deal), etc.

14. Love all, Serve all. Even today a ridiculously small number of sizable firms seek a sustainable edge through incredible service–Disney–or caterpillar–style. To get from (tawdry) here to (Olympian) there takes a wholesale commitment to nothing less than reconceiving the way business is done in your market or niche.

15. We’re here to live life out loud. Transformational leaders will eschew “hands off.” They will be bizarrely focused, tell the truth, and live life on the LUNATIC FRINGE. Revolutionary times call for revolutionary zeal and leaders. Those 15 ideas equal one big idea: Innovation should be your top-line obsession


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