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Tom Peters: Sixteen Hard Truths

With the recent discussion over on Ask Joel about Tom Peters the so-called Mangement Guru, I figured people might be interested in seeing what he's saying these days:

I'm sure everyone recognizes more than a few rather shop-worn truths on his list that we've been familiar with for quite some time now. The rest are bald assertions which one is supposed to meekly accept as being The Truth (a big ask from a man who faked the data in the book he is famous for, "In Search of Excellence").

Thursday, February 26, 2004

What an asshole. He has the nerve to say that broadband is as important as terrorism. I'm sorry, no matter how inflated and sensationalized terrorism and the government's reactions may be, the very very real deaths of people everywhere is vastly more important than internet access.

Alice: I'm dying of bubonic plague!
Bob: Quit your bitching, at least you have broadband!
Alice: Uhh... I'm dying of plague!
Bob: Wtf? Do you have any idea how long it takes me to download my daily comics?!
Alice: ... plague! <cough> <wheeze> <die>

Yeah, Peters should be tarred, feathered, drawn and quartered. Not necessarily in that order. Afterwards you can keel-haul the parts.

Mike Swieton
Thursday, February 26, 2004

I wonder if the "unearned advantage in living standards" applies to management consultants like peters?

the artist formerly known as prince
Thursday, February 26, 2004

"In Search of Excellence" is a brilliant book.

The main message of which is simple :

"Empower people, make your employees take ownership of the products and they will exceed your expectations" 

"Put your faith in people not processes"

And that matches my experience exactly.  Organisations producing quality work (like my current employer (woohoo)) make the employees feel free to innovate and invest in their work and really take 'ownership'

Bad organisations have procedures and regulations and a power structure that make it clear that the employees cant be trusted, so the employees avoid any personal involvement on their work.

The stats and exact details and even how the companies highlighted faired mean very little to me.  I think the book inspirationally shows how great good teams can be.

As for Tom Peters,  I was very disapointed with another book he was involved with that I read and the couple of others i flicked through didnt interest me at all.  Too much jargon and pompous pretention.


Thursday, February 26, 2004

Yeah, he's an arrogant arsehole. Look at me, I'm the greatest, look at me, I'm the greatest. Gimme, gimme, and I'll make you feel like your virtuous as you screw everyone.

With any luck someone will talk him into a management seminar at Baghdad U just when the resistance gets surface to air missiles.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

----"He has the nerve to say that broadband is as important as terrorism"-----

Yea, ridiculous nonsense. Could you imagine Bush winning an election because of the success of his war on POTS?

Stephen Jones
Thursday, February 26, 2004

Bush could do with smoking some more POTS, maybe then he'd mellow out a bit.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

16 Hard Truths:

12. Primary and secondary education must be reformed, ...

18.  Workers have the ultimate stake. ....

I guess the reformation of primary and secondary education should include teaching pupils how to count, Mr. Peters?

Thursday, February 26, 2004

>> ----"He has the nerve to say that broadband is as important as terrorism"-----

>> Yea, ridiculous nonsense. Could you imagine Bush winning an election because of the success of his war on POTS?

Surely it depends what he means. The responses I've seen have all been emotional. But is he meaning economically?

I don't know the guy or his works so perhaps I'm approaching from an unbiased standpoint?

Thursday, February 26, 2004

"What an asshole. He has the nerve to say that broadband is as important as terrorism. I'm sorry, no matter how inflated and sensationalized terrorism and the government's reactions may be, the very very real deaths of people everywhere is vastly more important than internet access."

Who's the asshole?

The reality is that terrorism really affects very few of us. Broadband will/does affect all of us. Broadband, with it's capacity to carry information, helps shine a light into the dark corners of the world were the terrorist cockroaches cluster. The free flow of information makes it difficult for despots to maintain their position (why do you think China tries to control access?). Do you think offshoring would be as big an issue without the internet and high speed information transfer? You don't think all of this is affecting peoples lives?


Thursday, February 26, 2004

Hurry off to school, anon.  You'll miss the bus.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Hey, at least it appears as if he's been to school, moron.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Broadband, at least to me, does not equate to "free flow of information to all people everywhere all the time."

What good is broadband if the government is still restricting access to certain content?  What good is broadband if you can't afford to buy a computer or pay the power bill for it?  What good is broadband if you have the bubonic plague and are about to die?  What good is broadband if you constantly live in fear of X or Y or Z?

Free flow of information can be a very powerful world-changing force.  But broadband?  OK, now I can download my mp3's as fast as they play instead of having to queue them up overnight.

Just a thought ...

Michael Kale
Thursday, February 26, 2004

I didn't read the article because I never learned to read but one person's comment that terrorism affects very few people is difficult to support.  Example, the new security measures required to protect our ports impose a cost on shipping and therefore tend to raise the cost of all goods shipped from overseas.

BTW, don't worry about plague.  Here in the first world we have drugs to cure it.

name withheld out of cowardice
Thursday, February 26, 2004

But it's not terrorism that affects loads of people. It's governments cack-handed response to it.

My office mate was off-work yesterday monring and I took his class. He had to go to the American Consolate to hand in his papers. The extra delay caused by security (which protects the people working in the Consolate as opposed to the average American citizen living in the country) had him fuming. The irony is that as a result of the crackdown Americans, both citizens and consolar staff, now have to cross busy dual carriageways on foot and are thus much more likely to be run over by hit-and-run drivers, who kill many more than terrorism in this country.

Even more farcical is the attitude of the RCMP in Canada, which will no longer issue a police clearance without fingerprinting all applicants and making them wait at least five months  - which is no fun if you need the police clearance for a job. The reason they cite is "an increase in global concerns about security" as opposed to the real reason, which is that they have unilaterally decided to make a stupid decision.

Incidentally Third World Countries can deal with bubonic plague as well. Tetracycline is the drug of choice, and it's widely available and dirt cheap. That fact of course didn't stop all the Gulf governments from stranding tens of thousands of Indian workers on vacation in their home country when there were reports of the odd case in Bihar a few years back.

But unlike those Indians, at least my future colleague in Canada has Broadband to keep him occupied during his government enforced wait :)

Stephen Jones
Thursday, February 26, 2004

But that is part of the point, though I don't know what "cack-handed" means.  Terrorism is designed to induce fear and force the government to take step that have economic consequences.  To do otherwise is politically impossible.  Your car example is classic.  Think how many ridiculous things the government spends disproportionate time and effort on because the voters perceive an unacceptible risk when car accidents are a risk we willingly take every day.

We cannot say "just ignore them and they will go away".  The voters will elect new politicians.  There are also more pressing dangers like the possibility that terrorist will detonate a nuke somewhere in NYC.  People need to feel the government is doing something, even if it has no chance of preventing a major attack like that.  If it is easy to get through the airport, people will say "man, if we are this lax on airport security, think how lax we must be on backpack nukes in NYC!"

name withheld out of cowardice
Thursday, February 26, 2004

Measuring Terrorism vs Broadband importance based on deathToll is not very good. There are many other things (such as alcohol abuse, cancer, heart disease, etc...) that negatively impact even more of our lives.

I think broadband internet access positively affects many people's lives.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Nothing is inherently good or bad, we make it so.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Come on guys - I was hoping for a reasoned debate about the things that Tom Peters says will affect our profession. He just tossed in the terrorist/broadband thing as a troll - which was possibly a savvy marketing move (that's a topic for another day: Trolling - is it an effective marketing tactic?)

Thursday, February 26, 2004

I'm sorry, but I just can't take Tom Peters seriously any more. The first thing that came to mind while reading "Sixteen Hard Truths" was, "How much of this did he make up"? (and for those who don't know, it turns out that much of the data in "In Search Of Excellence" was faked)

Semi-Anonymous Coward
Thursday, February 26, 2004

Why would you want to debate what Tom Peters says? He doesn't display any insight, and certainly no knowledge of our sector.

No. I think the management course at Bagdhad U is the go.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

How about the hard truth that 2.5 billion Indians and Chinese can not take up Western lifestyles without seriously fucking the environment (way moreso than it already is)?

Or is that one hard truth that's just been put in the too hard basket?

Sum Dum Gai
Thursday, February 26, 2004

To paraphrase Tom.

Economics effects us.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

To paraphrase Tom: "Economics effects us. "

That would be right. The correct word is: "affects." Doesn't know what he's talking about.

SDG raises a good point. How many forests will be cut down, oceans polluted and cancers caused when 2.5 billion people want motor cars, petrol and lead paint? How many Bhopals will kill 6,000 people at a time from leaks?

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Didn't someone write a book about the problems we would have when the world population reached 6 billion people? I think it was Population Bomb or something like that. Well, we made it to 6 billion and the world is still going.

The reason for humanity's success is our adaptibility. We will come up with more ways  to support larger numbers of consumption based lifestyles. Today's cars are way more efficient than the gas guzzling monstrosities of the 60 and 70's. Cars of the future will be even more efficient. The US government actually pays farmers to NOT produce food. In short, we are more efficient that we were when the population was smaller. And more people means more brains to make us even better.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

>> we made it to 6 billion and the world is still going.

Maybe because 5 billion cannot afford McDonald's yet.

Isn't it spelled "Consulate"?
Friday, February 27, 2004

Yes, Alex, it is spelled Consulate - mea culpa.

---"How about the hard truth that 2.5 billion Indians and Chinese can not take up Western lifestyles without seriously fucking the environment"-------

The sad truth is that 250 million US citizens can't take up Western lifestyles without fucking up the environment (which as they are taking 25% of the world's resources at present is happening apace).

And 4 billion third worlders can't take up subsistence lifestyles without fucking up the environment - deforestation is basically a Third World Problem (basically because the First World got rid of the forests when it was still in Third World mode).

Stephen Jones
Friday, February 27, 2004

NathanJ, it is stupid to say we're adapting to increasing populations. Rivers, beaches and wildlife are in much worse shape than they were 50 years ago.

Cleaner cars simply slows down the damage. It doesn't stop it. And I don't want roads everywhere.

Subsidies to farmers are to agribusiness, and do not mean we're producing more food. Hundreds of millions of people are starving. In fact, those subsidies cause them to starve, because they artificially inflate the price of food.

Friday, February 27, 2004


Are you stupid? We ARE adapting and developing new technologies to produce more with less. Government subsidies go to mom & pop farmers as well as agribusiness.

Just because people are starving doesn't mean we don't produce enough food. A lack of proper infrastructure (such as ROADS) causes many problems for 3rd world countries.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Agricultural subsidies cause hardship, and even malnutrition in the Third World because they deflate agricultural prices, not inflate them.

The result is that the local farmer is undercut by subisidized foodstuffs from the States and the EU and ends up selling his land to pay off debts and goes to the city to be a slum dweller.

The technology to produce more with less is in place. However there seems to be little political will to implement it. And of course efficient energy use requires capital to start with. The Brazilian working class family is lucky to have a twenty year old fridge; it won't be that Greenstar compliant. And the old buses that drink diesel and spew out black fumes and that have been replaced in Western Europe with all new emission control compliant ones, are polluting the atmostphere in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Philipines where there isn't the money to buy anything else.

And for sheer wastefulness look at the post about whether you should wear a suit to an interview in Florida. Apparently they run the A/C so high that people are able to wear suits and ties in the offices. Jeez.

Stephen Jones
Friday, February 27, 2004

Stephen, thanks for that extra information, which is all part of a very serious problem.

I was under the impression that artificial price maintenance kept the price of many foodstuffs out of reach of populations in developing nations. Areas where people are starving will still export to Western markets where they can get higher prices.

Friday, February 27, 2004

I think there is a lack of understanding regarding government subsidies here. Government subsidies are used to support prices. The government does not directly subsidize foods to undercut third-world farmers. The US made substantial investments into agricultural science making US farmers very competitive in terms of production. This causes prices to fall.

Subsistence farmers are not very efficient in terms of land use. Third world farmers are often as bad or worse for the environment than evil agribusiness.

Friday, February 27, 2004

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