Today brands are everything, and all kinds of products and services - from accounting firms to sneaker makers to restaurants - are figuring out how to transcend the narrow boundaries of their categories and become a brand surrounded by a Tommy Hilfiger-like buzz.
Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast.
'In Search of Excellence' was an afterthought, the runt of the McKinsey consulting litter, a hip-pocket project that was never supposed to amount to much.
Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing... layout, processes, and procedures.
Mittelstand companies are incredibly focused and almost always family-run. The young men and women go through the apprenticeship system and learn that the goal is excellence.
Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.
As a consumer, you want to associate with brands whose powerful presence creates a halo effect that rubs off on you.
For the blue-collar worker, the driving force behind change was factory automation using programmable machine tools. For the office worker, it's office automation using computer technology: enterprise-resource-planning systems, groupware, intranets, extranets, expert systems, the Web, and e-commerce.
Good managers have a bias for action.
The workplace revolution that transformed the lives of blue-collar workers in the 1970s and 1980s is finally reaching the offices and cubicles of the white-collar workers.
Business book writing for me is when some set of ideas gets stuck in my mind, I write a book about it. I haven't got a theory and I haven't got a framework.
We found that the most exciting environments, that treated people very well, are also tough as nails. There is no bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo... excellent companies provide two things simultaneously: tough environments and very supportive environments.
Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.
The whole secret to our success is being able to con ourselves into believing that we're going to change the world because statistically we are unlikely to do it.
'In Search of Excellence' - even the title - is a reminder that business isn't dry, dreary, boring, or by the numbers. Life at work can be cool - and work that's cool isn't confined to Tiger Woods, Yo-Yo Ma, or Tom Hanks. It's available to all of us and any of us.
Stop being conned by the old mantra that says, 'Leaders are cool, managers are dweebs.' Instead, follow the Peters Principle: Leaders are cool. Managers are cool too!
The top athletes are consummate pros who work obsessively at their craft. Approach yours the same way.
Community organizing is all about building grassroots support. It's about identifying the people around you with whom you can create a common, passionate cause. And it's about ignoring the conventional wisdom of company politics and instead playing the game by very different rules.
As far as I'm concerned, the first business leader who was able to establish a cult of personality around his tenure was Lee Iacocca.
Vision is dandy, but sustainable company excellence comes from a huge stable of able managers.