In Search of Excellence

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By: Anonymous In Search of Excellence was the 1982 best-selling look at excellent companies and an attempt to identify the attributes they had in common that helped to make them successful. Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman studied dozens of American companies and deemed these companies to be excellent: Bechtel, Boeing, Caterpillar, Dana, Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett-Packard, Delta, Fluor, IBM, Procter and Gamble, McDonalds, 3M, Digital Equipment and Emerson Electric. The book gives many anecdotes describing incidents of unusual efforts by employees, contributing to long-term financial performance and growth. For example, IBM products were described to have higher cost than their competitors, and were harder to use. But customers felt that IBM went to unusual lengths to get to know their needs. They offered unequaled guarantees of reliability and service, which spoke of assurance and success. Procter and Gamble is regarded more for extreme commitment to product quality than for their legendary marketing.

Frito's potato chip salesmen strive to achieve a 99.5% service level. This is the foundation of its extraordinary success. Analysts showed how much could be saved if Frito would reduce its commitment to service The analysts are right, Frito would save money. However, analysts can not begin to predict the impact of service unreliability on the sales force, retailers, and eventually on the market share loss. The successful companies limited themselves to a handful of themes that were intense and repetitive, and highly successful in helping employees buy into themes. Quality and service were the hallmarks of these companies. In addition, everyone's cooperation was required; they demanded extraordinary performance from average employees. Productivity through people was a common theme. Excellent companies were ingenious on the basics. Companies worked hard to make things simple. They insisted on quality and made each customer feel vital. They listened to...