Tag Archives: Tom Peters

Numbers, numbers, numbers…

As part of my effort to learn French, I was reading some passages of “Le Petit Prince” last weekend. There was one that directly struck me:

Les grandes personnes aiment les chiffres. Quand vous leur parlez d’un nouvel ami, elles ne vous questionnent jamais sur l’essentiel. Elles ne vous disent jamais: “Quel est le son de sa voix? Quels sont les jeux qu’il préfère? Est-ce qu’il collectionne les papillons?” Elles vous demandent: “Quel âge a-t-il? Combien a-t-il de frères? Combien pèse-t-il? Combien gagne son père?” Alors seulement elles croient le connaître. Si vous dites aux grandes personnes: “J’ai vu une belle maison en briques roses, avec des géraniums aux fenêtres et des colombes sur le toit…” elles ne parviennent pas à s’imaginer cette maison. Il faut leur dire: “J’ai vu une maison de cent mille francs.” Alors elles s’écrient: “Comme c’est joli!

Some days before I had seen the following tweet by the management guru Tom Peters:

Having said this, I can only confess that I am one of those. One of those old people, grande personne, that loves numbers, crunching numbers, spreadsheets, etc…

If you asked me something about for example my drive to the job every morning, I wouldn’t say “Oh, it’s beautiful, there are lots of trees, you can smell this or that”, no, no…

I would tell you: “it takes door-to-door an average of 31 minutes -which coincidentally is the exact time most repeated-, I depart at 8:35am on average, I have tried 3 different routes and route number 3 seems to be about 4 minutes shorter on average than the other 2 routes, I found out that it is as good to be an early comer to the office than to arrive at about 9:30am, while the worst time to leave home is about 8:15am… Tuesdays are the worst days normally, taking on average about 5 minutes more than Wednesdays, the best day”. Numbers.

And I would have said all these because during the last 7 months I had been taking note of the all the numbers related to those trips, crunching them in a spreadsheet, etc, etc…

Door to door time to reach the office.

Frequency of different trip times.

Certaines grandes personnes aimons les chiffres.

2 Comments

Filed under Books, France, Twitter & Media

Management Gurus (book review)

According to the Wikipedia a guru is someone “regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others”. The term comes from Sanskrit (गुरु), where gu means darkness & ru means light.

I mention this because during these last holidays I read a book about gurus, “Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus“, by Tim Hindle (322 pgs.).

Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus, Tim Hindle.

About two years ago The Economist used to send within a weekly alert a profile about a management idea and one guru, all of them coming from this book. Since then I had wanted to buy this book, which I found last June at a Schiphol airport book shop.

The book first reviews about a hundred management ideas, e.g., benchmarking, core competence, kaizen, lean production, SWOT analysis… Later it provides a short profile of over 50 authors or gurus, from Taylor and McGregor to Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, C.K. Prahalad… From each idea and author you get two pages. It is a good refresher of different concepts you may have studied and also helps relating some ideas and authors to others, interlinking them.

Along the book there is also bibliography related to each idea and from each author. In total I guess there are over 200 books and papers suggested. Also, it is very handy that from each author the book gives two or three notable quotations, from which you can get a quick idea of what is going to come. So now, after reading it I have a book with lots of marked pages, underlined parts and books and papers to look for.

I wanted to extract some ideas from three of those “gurus”:

  • C. Northcote Parkinson a naval historian famous for his book “Parkinson’s Law“, which can be stated as “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion”.
  • Laurence Peter a Canadian teacher famous for his book “The Peter Principle“, which can be phrased as “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”.
  • Robert Townsend a former director of American Express famous for his book “Up the Organisation” with a more clarifying subtitle “How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits”, where he is harsh on the vanity and stupidity of executive leaders.
  • Though not a “guru” from the ones profiled in the book, Scott Adams “Dilbert” comic strip is cited in at least a couple of times, take a moment to check it.

You can be sure that I have marked these three books in the to-read list.

4 Comments

Filed under Books, Personal development & HR