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In Search Of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  12,433 ratings  ·  189 reviews
The "Greatest Business Book of All Time" (Bloomsbury UK), In Search of Excellence has long been a must-have for the boardroom, business school, and bedside table.

Based on a study of forty-three of America's best-run companies from a diverse array of business sectors, In Search of Excellence describes eight basic principles of management -- action-stimulating, people-orient
Paperback, 392 pages
Published April 15th 2004 by Profile Books (first published 1982)
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Scott Dinsmore
Jul 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Why I Read this Book: I was interested to know what it is that makes companies excellent. If I plan to do any type of work at all, be it start a business or work for one, it is fundamental to understand how the great companies of the world have done it.


Most of you have probably heard of McKinsey & Company, Inc. For those of you who have not, let me quickly note that McKinsey & Company is the most prestigious top tier management and strategic consulting firm in this world. The majority of
Jen Feldmann
Jul 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
After leaving my position as CEO of a small IT company after its new owner, an arrogant Wharton MBA, made my life hell, I decided to spend some time revisiting the old time business classics. While "In Search of Excellence, Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies" is truly an oldie, with several of the cited companies no longer in existence, and most no longer "great" companies, I think many of the concepts hold true: Be close to the customer, treat employees like adults, small is beautiful, t ...more
Ramy Khodeir
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
A must read for every business executive
Rohan Monteiro
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Read this during my MBA days.

I'm going to quote from another book (Standard Deviations by Gary Smith) which I highly recommend and which might provide some perspective here

"McKinsey, one of the world’s top consulting firms, asked two obscure consultants, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, to take a look at several successful companies. Peters and Waterman talked to other McKinsey consultants and came up with a list of forty-three companies with good reputations and strong financials. They then talk
Nov 21, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: management
I listened to the audio version of the book and it was slow and painful. Their ideas are good, but the prolong examples were more matter than meat. This is a book that is better skimmed than read.

I read the book in Dec 2008 and some of the companies mentioned either don't exist or have been bought up by others. I would really like to see a follow up to the book and see how the companies are doing and if the priciples Peters extols have worked.
Lauren Sheil
May 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
I've read this book before. It was called every business book ever written ever. I realize this was one of the first and was ground breaking in its day but now its been reduced to a cliche. The books that followed are more detailed and more relevant for today's world. If you're interested in history fine but if you want practical advice for today don't waste your time with this one. ...more
David McClendon, Sr
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Way back in the 1980s few people in business gave much thought to what makes an excellent business. Peters and Waterman conducted research on companies they identified as excellent. What they found were some common threads among the truly excellent companies.

Being counted as an excellent company today is no guarantee that the company will be excellent in the future. The bar of excellence is constantly being raised and, in today’s economy, lowered.

If you are a business student, this is among the
Jun 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2011
One of the better business books out there. Still relevant 30 years after it was written, providing me much insight and wisdoem on how to motivate and lead by Dr. Peters study of excellent companies and why they succeed. More or less and I'm finding this to be a common theme, its the people in the organization and how they are managed that creates long-term success. A company is short-sighted if they think it is any one product alone because in this age with exponential competition, we must rely ...more
Víctor R. Ramos
In Search of Excellence was one of the 1980's best-selling books.

The authors analyzed some successful companies attempting to identify the eight attributes they had in common.

Since then, more than half of those "excellent" companies disappeared, got acquired and disassembled, or went through extreme difficulties, indicating that the eight attributes were just simply things the companies did well at the time, but were not the answer to long term success.

However, this book is still a good read for
Hugh Evans
Sep 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Would have had 5 stars had this been 1990.
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
must read for every Entrepreneur/Business owner
Lone Wong
It is ambivalent for me to rate this book, 3.5 stars at max. I intend to rate it 4 stars, but the book is written in a very technical and ambiguous way for reader very hard to assimilate the idea of the book. It seems the author reiterates the idea through out the whole books trying to fit in his 8 principles of managing a company.

It's biased to compare the excellent company with the rest and speculate the conclusion. But, the book remains a classic management business book for 35 years (publish
Mark Oppenlander
In the early 1980's, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman were consultants at McKinsey and Company who were given the task of looking at a number of successful US companies and seeing if they could find commonalities. They chose about 43 firms, based on financial performance and general reputation and then did a series of interviews with executives at those firms as well as a survey of articles written about those firms (what those of us in academia would call a literature review.) The results of thos ...more
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
The timing for having read this book, In Search of Excellence I was on my own search for it somewhere between shoulder pads for women's suits and a dresser drawer I had popping full of panty hose. Curiously it was also about the same time my mom wanted me to write a personal request to Lee Iacocca of Chrysler and ask him for a personal scholarship to help pay my college semester after my family moved yet again. She had just bought a LeBaron covertible. She was almost fully convinced this would b ...more
Dec 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I thought this was pretty good, but the majority of the 8 principles these authors derived from their research I've read or heard other places before. Perhaps, this text was the first time they were presented in this manner, but for me, reading this for the first time in 2015, these ideas were boring and unoriginal, so I wasn't shocked by their value. I'd say that it's definitely worth reading because the principles are all solid for both business and public/non-profit sector organizational mana ...more
Cyril Danthi
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book : In Search of Excellence
Author: Tom Peters & Robert H Waterman

In search of Excellence is a book on research using 7S (Strategy & Structure (hardware), Style, systems, Staff, Skills, and shared Values (software)) framework of McKinsey as the authors were working with McKinsey. The book was first published in 1982 and thought that was striking the mind is after 22 years is it makes relevant to today’s competitive and technology companies. To identify the rational of the excellence companies
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Geoffrey Morris

I had to read this for class. Peters and Waterman have some good concepts, but the writing is anything but "exuberant and absorbing", as the WSJ claims. Published in 1982, this book deserves a second edition with contemporary subjects of study—Apple would be a huge get—and analysis of why formerly excellent companies discussed in the first edition (HP, IBM, Exxon, Delta) are no longer that way but why Boeing and UTC still are, and why Lockheed and GE have reversed fortune. It would validate or
يوسف زهدى
A very nice management book! the book is newer version of same title published twice before discussing what are the factors which make some companies excellent and discuss 8 basic factors which assume to be so and I agree with them to large extent.
The book discuss each idea with tons and tons of detailed examples (to the boring extent) yet present the ideas clearly and in very simple convincing way.
I really recommend the book for people working at different managerial levels in different industr
The most important things to remember: treat your employees like adults, have a teachable value system, and be simple enough to remember the customer. It would also be easy to do away with bureaucracy, but we have to learn what goes into business today.

For Weick and March, I salute you, Captains. (Heh heh!)
Ana Naglich
Somewhat outdated and aimed at large corporations (even if the author praises acting as a small company /3rd point of excellence/ - throughout the book, the examples involve large companies).
Some companies mentioned in the book failed in the meantime, some principles are still valid (and omnipresent), while some of them are no longer relevant and even counterproductive in 2019.
Wainwright Yu
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
5 stars largely because this was the very first Business & Investing book I read -- way back in early high school -- and I enjoyed it enough to keep on reading in the genre. So thank you, Tom Peters, for giving me a nice first introduction to the exciting world of business.
Peter Timson
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was convinced at the time. Now I'm not so sure that it wasn't a trick. The apparent message is great but not so sure whether it was just a ruse. Sad. One of those seminal books along the way I guess. ...more
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
In Search of Excellence is another book that consistently shows up on "best business books" lists. Having made a commitment to take a deeper diver dive into professional literature and read some of its seminal works, I took a chance on In Search of Excellence. Unfortunately I had a similar reaction to it as I did other influential books of its kind; to wit, it's overly long, intellectually obtuse and redundant, and too often pretentious.

The biggest problem with In Search of Excellence is its unn
Mohammed Barakat
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on researches done by the authors (Peters and Waterman), this book discusses eight basics or themes that had proved, as per the authors, prevalent amongst ‘excellent’ companies more than 30 years ago; namely- A bias for action, Close to the customer, Autonomy and entrepreneurship, Productivity through people, Hands-on value-driven, Stick to the knitting, Simple form lean staff, and Simultaneous loose-tight properties.

Although these eight basics are recommended to nurture excellence in any
Nigel Street
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting if somewhat dated assessment of the ingredients of an excellent company. The authors clearly draw heavily on their network of contacts from work in the field with the biggest name in consulting: McKinsey. It provides a valuable summary of the essential ingredients to success, in their opinion, by stating 8 key areas and how they apply to the McKinsey 7s. Easier to read than some it provides a good combination of theory supported by examples. My biggest criticism is that the examples ...more
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Bought way back, when it was on the best-seller lists, I had expectations. However, considering that some of the "excellent" companies used as shining examples of what to be successful and how to do it, one has to wonder... Being in a management for several years, I see some of these "lessons" as being drilled again and again in training courses, but not in reality (most organizations still suffer from top-heavy management structures, with several layers of middle managers with no real role othe ...more
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the early 1980s, a time when it felt like the rest of the world was leaving the United States behind, two management consultants search the country to find out what America’s best-run companies had in common. In brief this us what they found:
• A bias for action
• Staying close to the customer
• Autonomy and entrepreneurship
• Productivity through people
• Hands-on value driven
• Stick to the knitting
• Simple form, lean staff
• Simultaneous loose-tight properties
As a manager at the time, I devoured
Ionut Ciobotaru
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's incredible how many (all?) of the concepts in this book are still applicable today (although the companies mentioned are no longer amongst the top). Highly recommended but only after some hands-on entrepreneurship/exec/management experience and reading a few other "bibles" from the business books library. ...more
Frédéric Bonin
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it
As a management consultant, I understood this book to be a must read yet it took everything that I have to finish reading it! The book is full of clever references and practical ideas. It is also incredibly dry, dated and not an enjoyable read. I believe that I am now a little bit smarter for having persevered all the way until the end but I did not have a good time in the process.
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See also works published as Tom Peters

Born in Baltimore in 1942 "with a lacrosse stick in one hand and oars over my shoulder," Peters resided in California, mainly Silicon Valley (where he was on a list of "100 most powerful people in Silicon Valley"), from 1965–2000. Today, Peters and his wife Susan Sargent live on a 1,600-acre working farm, "always under construction," in Vermont. His two stepso

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