Rakesh Wadhwa:

The book in search of excellence was published in 1982. It's been nearly four decades now, and the business world has changed so dramatically ever since. The themes that you mentioned in the book, how do they still apply to this current world as we call it volatile, uncertain, chaotic, ambiguous etc?


Tom Peters:

Well, I want to give two different answers.  Not all of the companies that we looked at in 1982 have fared particularly well, a lot have not. And that's a big point too, because the simple fact of the matter is, in Germany, India, the United States, giant companies get bigger and bigger and more bureaucratic and more bureaucratic. And unfortunately, excellence tends to disappear in that process. So a lot of them got beaten up.  Now I'm gonna take exception in the most polite way, to what you just said. You said that things have changed dramatically. And my answer to that is they absolutely have not changed dramatically. The way we do things may have, but not organizations.

Organizations are about two things, the private sector, public sector, independent sector, big, small, everyone, they are about service and they are about people. And my little one-sentence version of that is “Organizations are people called leaders, serving people, which are employees, serving people who are, our customers and communities”

And so the whole reason I'm having this conversation with you and I've been having other conversations like it, is that what we said in 1982 is 10 times more important today in the face of the COVID-19 thing. It's all about people. I have given 2,500 plus speeches and I walk into the room and I've said, it's all about people and walked away.

Organizations are about human beings. Yes, artificial intelligence and robotics are taking jobs away and so on. And I don't deny that for a minute.  But think about it, we've got a lot of people working from home now, what are we trying to do? What are leaders trying to do? We're trying to learn how to talk with each other and be more effective with each other,  doing it through a screen, but it's all about people and you have to go past that. And I'm sure you, and I will get to this in a while to go pass that if you want to survive in the age of the artificial intelligence revolution, which is already underway, you need to be more human than ever.

From a business perspective, you have to be closer to your customers and engage your customers more. And the services and products that you provide have got to be insanely human and incredibly exciting in a way that they weren't before.

If you are in a business, that is a commodity business, you are out of business. The commodity businesses will be taken over by artificial intelligence, robotics, and so on. And so to survive from a business perspective, you got to be special!