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In Search of Excellence


"In Search of Excellence" is a book dealing with many
different principles of economics and what makes "big
business" excellent. The first idea that Peters discusses
is his chart of the McKinsey 7-S Framework. The graph is
very simple but the ideas are fairly complex. In their
research, they found that their philosophies were too hard
to explain and easily forgettable. They made this Framework
to deal with strategy, structure, style, systems, staff
(people), skills, and shared values (culture). This has 7
S's (easy to remember) and a graphical representation to

It shows the businessman that the intractable, irrational,
intuitive, and informal organization can be managed. For
example, anyone assuming that a new manager of a Taco Bell
will perform exactly as the old manager did is ridiculous.
The organization of workers must adjust and adapt to the
new manager's way of business. 

Another more main topic of the novel is the Eight Basic
Principles. Their research had shown that the excellent
companies had been based on the basics. The companies had
to try to keep things simple. Sometimes, to a big business,
it might seem logical that business should be run more
complex the larger it is. From their research, this is
usually not true. The first principle is a bias for action.
This is basically saying "Stop talking and do something
about it." When Taco Bell has a rush of customers and their
supplies for making food are low, they (usually) don't say
"You know what, I have no more cheese" or "Could someone
get me some more cheese?" They take action and get the
cheese, make it if necessary, and get the problem solved as
quickly as possible.
The second Principle they deal with is to be close to the
customer. This means good service and listening to what the
customer has to say. If the producer, Taco Bell, is not in
touch with what the customer wants to eat, then the
business will most likely fail. Although it also refers to
customer satisfaction; quality food made right and
courteous service: "Have a nice day and enjoy your meal!"
The third principle is autonomy and entrepreneurship. This
is the innovation principle. 3M is known for innovation and
they welcome the changing and rearranging of old and new
products. For example, my dad took 3M's basic arthroscopy
pump and redesigned it into an in flow-out flow cannula.
This innovation on his part temporarily set 3M back on its
feet in that product line.
The fourth basic principle is productivity through people.
This deals with the individual as the best means for
efficiency improvement rather than capital investment. If
Taco Bell could put everyone in the area of work they most
enjoyed (drive-thru, washer,...) then they could
concentrate on producing more food.
The fifth basic principle is hands on, value driven. This
is the standard setting and enforcing values in a company.
This is keeping the "head honcho" in touch with the
assembly line worker and projecting the company's original
ideas, instead of an image of some suited businessman
lurking in a big, dark office.
The sixth and often obvious principle is to stick to the
"knitting". This basically says that if a company is in the
food business, it should not branch off into the wood
industry unless they have no where else to expand within
their own industry.
The seventh basic principle is a simple form, lean staff.
This means leaving few people up top to manage a company
and keep the form of management simple.
The eighth and final basic principle is simultaneous
loose-tight properties. This is another value-based
principle. This could be described as the ability for a
worker of Taco Bell to do his/her job in his/her own way as
they incorporate the company's values and philosophies into
their work. These values demonstrate that they don't just
work because they work, but rather because they just make
sense. Peters does a great job of explaining and giving
examples of these eight principles and shows us that we
would be foolish to ignore these principles. Also, we could
learn a new skill from the 7 S-Framework, which is what
growth is really about: the ability to learn and teach. 


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