What did you do this Summer?

Some people might think of Summer as a time to relax and unwind?? Not us!! Having detected a distinct upturn in the tone of many of the conversations we had been having with clients about the future,  we decided to use our annual Summer Research project to find out more. We hoped this group of Tom Peters Company aficionados could shed some light on the most pressing business improvement challenges at this particular time. Sorry if that makes us sound a bit sad, but we’ve had a fantastic time studying the responses!

We wanted to find out how has the experience of coming through the recession influenced people’s development concerns and priorities. Are there any common themes emerging now that might be of interest more generally to leaders as they make plans for their own future success and for the future success of their business?

This selection of people were offered one-off free access to the Excellence Audit in return for structured information from them on their current priorities for business improvement. 143 willing souls from 29 different countries spread across six continents actually submitted Excellence Audit surveys.

Completing an Excellence Audit enabled respondents to identify their most urgent priorities areas for improvement. As expected, each respondent defined “future excellence” in their organisation in their own unique way. But looking across the whole group of 143 respondents, the Excellence Audit identified a substantial 22% “Now” to “Future” improvement requirement in the coming year, with areas of need evenly distributed across our Future Shape of the Winner business excellence model.

One of our participants, a Director of Community Regeneration in Europe summed up the challenge ahead this way:

‘To survive and thrive, organisations will need leaders who have the capacity to organise resources in a way that allows them to deliver and dream simultaneously.”


The main business improvement focus areas selected by all the survey groups were Talent Leadership, (Customer) Experience, Architecture and Execution. Within these focus areas, the biggest priorities for immediate improvement action were:

  • leaders investing more of their time finding, deploying, encouraging, and protecting champions of change, and
  • businesses exploiting the latest IT and web based systems; to deliver products and services more efficiently: to provide a more personalised service; to ensure all relevant knowledge and management information is accessible at every desk/laptop, and to improve business processes and methodologies.

Examining the different survey subgroups for functional or geographical differences, the main conclusion is that those with Manager positions are the most anxious group to get going with improvement action. Managers in North America give the heaviest priority to getting on with improvements to the business Architecture and Execution, whereas Western European Managers show the highest anxiety to start to address their Talent Leadership responsibilities

In a nutshell, it’s a case of finding the right combination of  “systems plus passion leading to excellence!”  In the full report, we explain our findings in more detail, and suggest an action agenda for anyone interested in getting active around this research. If you would like a copy of the full report, please email us on team@tompeters.com.

We’d love to hear how are things looking for you and your team or your clients? What is your sense of what you should be focusing on for the future?