Wednesday 10 February 2010

Tom Peters: He Who Tries The Most Stuff The Fastest Wins

Tom Peters has been a great inspiration to me throughout my career. I asked Tom for his take on ‘unplanning’ and was told to expect a response in March on his return from New Zealand. But in typical Tom style, I actually got a response 48 hours later. I was going to edit his email but decided it more apt to post it here in its entirety:

“MIT's Michael Schrage is the ‘guru’ and my guru on the topic of prototyping, about which he's written a ton. To begin with he labels it the #1 core competence of an innovative organization. But the even more profound point he makes is that innovation is per se the reaction to a prototype. That is, first and foremost, you've gotta have something/s of substance to shoot at if you want to move forward. Which brings me to my other guru on this topic, Texan and EDS founder Ross Perot. His motto: ‘Ready. Fire. Aim.’ Some time after Ross sold EDS to GM, he contrasted the two firms. He said that the EDS ‘strategy’ was ‘Ready. Fire. Aim.’ By contrast, GM's way was ‘Ready. Aim. Aim. Aim. Aim. ...’ Well, we all know the rest of the (sad) story.

In 1982, Bob Waterman and I wrote a book called In Search of Excellence, which was organized around the ‘Eight Basics’ of ‘Excellent companies.’ Something had to be first! And it was, we said, ‘A Bias for Action.’ In 2010 in my speeches I claim (and mean it) that I've ‘only learned one thing in 40 years’ of business: ‘He who tries the most stuff the fastest wins.’

I started to add here, ‘While I'm no enemy of planning ...’ But I am an enemy of overly elaborate planning processes. I am a firm (almost ‘religious’) believer in the power of ‘gettin' goin'.’ I'll leave the last few words to my late father, Frank Peters: ‘Don't just stand there, do something’ "

photo credit: Allison Shirreffs

1 comment:

  1. Hmm... Action without understanding is just reaction. Now, being reactive is a *type* of planning, but not a very good one.

    John Boyd has a much better grasp of this. The key to success in a fasting changing environment is the ability to orient yourself quickly.