Category: Excellence Audit

Have you got the development habit?

With the world of work these days in constant turmoil, individuals must have their own coping strategies. Here are five to keep on your agenda.

  1. Know Yourself: Stay in touch with what you are really good at. Take surveys and, above all, get others to tell you what they see, both your strengths and weaknesses. Although it is always good to work on your weaknesses, don’t forget your strengths make up your present Brand. They give you a strong platform to build on. Developing mastery in your areas of strength means you can stand out in your profession, which is always a good insurance for the future.
  2. Be on the lookout for different future possibilities: Don’t assume that the future is going to be just like the past +or- a bit. Every now and then, there will be a game changer in your industry, like an Uber or an Air BNB. Make sure you stay tuned in to what’s going on in your industry and profession, by joining networks, social media groups, blogs and magazine subscriptions. Keep talking and asking.
  3. Set up your own Personal University: There is a wealth of knowledge and experience out there. What we all need is our own network of contacts that can keep us on track. Maybe you need subject matter experts who can share their wisdom, maybe you need someone to be a coach or mentor, maybe you need someone to hold us to our commitments. Work out what help you need, and ask for it!
  4. Use work for development: Training courses are important, but your work place is where you get serious about using new ideas. Every work assignment you do can be a development experience if you do it in a way that stretches you. Reframe your project slightly so that you end up doing it differently, or simply reflect on things as they happen. There’s a world of experience out there – exploit it.
  5. Celebrate and keep moving: Please do pat yourself on the back when you’ve reached a development milestone – you may even have a member of  your personal university to help with that. But don’t forget, development is a mindset, not a destination. Once you reach a new level, you can see what else there is to know.

Watch out for new material on this subject soon and sign up to get on our mailing list here.

The world of learning is changing

In traditional personal development, you develop goals around current career roles you aspire to.  With the robotization of just about everything, and the relentless pace of change in business, who knows what will happen to our jobs in the future? In the future shape of personal development we anticipate trends and position ourselves to be ready for whatever roles emerge in the looming reshaping of jobs that is ahead.

There’s loads of stuff out there

There was a time when you could only get development input from teachers, books, libraries. No longer. The good news is there is massive choice of material – You Tube, Google, your favorite guru on Twitter, TED Talks, the Khan  Academy….The bad news is you can get overwhelmed with input.  In the future shape of personal development we get good at finding new content to fit our needs – this should probably get taught this as a topic in it own right!

Personalised learning

We all have our own reservoir of experience that we have accumulated over the years. So how do we build on what we’ve got, to get to our next level?  Personalised learning is the answer – TPC’s assessment process finds what the next level of development is for us. That’s what we use our excellence audit for,  and we advise drawing on the opinions of others, to provoke us what to do next.

Personal University

What keeps you moving forwards? Who do you know who can help you?

  • People you know, who know things you don’t know, are a great place to start.
  • How about people who would approach situations in a completely differently to the way you do?
  • Maybe what you need is someone to keep your honest, and do what you say will do?

Building up a tranche people who complement you, who can join you on your development journey, is an essential aspect of the future shape of personal development. They are a key part of the self development picture.

Work Based Learning

Adults’ natural inclination is to solve problems that matter to them. Learning that is situated in your workplace kills two birds with one stone. It gets the job done, and it stretches your thinking so that you develop yourself. Our TPC action learning methodology shows you how to incorporate learning into your daily business.

Our Excellence Academy exploits all of these concepts. It’s TPC’s version of the future shape of personal development, and it’s affordable an accessible to all. Sign up here for our next webinar. or register for the next program here.

Does the future of your work life worry you?

Do you run a small business and want to support the on-going professional development of your key people, or are you an individual professional determined to keep yourself at the leading edge in your chosen field? Constant and radical change is the norm for every professional in every sector: a recent Deloitte video describes this as The Big Shift.

Yet most professionals these days work in small and medium sized businesses without access to the dedicated in-house personal development services provided by big companies. That leaves the professionals themselves and those who employ them with a dilemma – what can you do if you are determined to stay in step with the rest of the world and need some structured support in taking on the challenge?

Tom Peters Company’s solution is to flip the problem by drawing like-minded professionals into the dilemma. We have launched an individual professional excellence program and have piloted it for two years with existing clients. The online version of the Excellence Academy, launching later in the year, supports committed individuals or small groups of professionals to create and execute their own radical development plans.

Our early clients are reporting significant mindset shift in their participants and have seen obvious personal and professional growth over the period. Further, they believe that the approach has benefitted the whole organization in getting professional development onto the management agenda across the business.

Specific benefits have emerged:

  • Most of the learning take place by reframing existing work assignments into structured learning projects which produce beneficial results for the individual and the business.
  • Practicing action learning on real work assignments becomes a habit, which can last a life time – a fantastic investment for the individual and the organization.
  • The program has four action learning cycles over a 12 month period, with regular inputs and provocations from TPC and systematic monitoring of what is being achieved and what is being learned. This structured approach makes the learning sustainable.
  • Senior people, managers and professional associates, act as participant mentors which is a powerful personal development experience for them, too.
  • Management’s visible and active involvement in the learning process sends an important messageto the whole organization that professional development is a priority here!

So far this program has been available to SMEs in a blended learning format with a mix of face to face delivery, group video conferences, individual participant and mentor coaching, and regular on-line inputs and updates.

We will be piloting an online version of the program in early 2016. Are interested to know more?

Sign up here for our next webinar, where we will explain the program and take questions from you.

Why an Excellence Academy?

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “white collar revolution” before—Tom Peters used the phrase in his Reinventing Work series of books. And like so many of his predictions, the idea of a revolution transforming the world of the white collar worker, in much the same way as blue collar work had been in the preceding decades, has now become a mainstream concept.

Whether your country’s economy is recovering from the ravages of the global recession or is still bumping along the bottom, the White Collar Revolution will continue unabated. We all face the challenge of thriving in a world where our work will change in ways we can scarcely imagine.

For example, Google is intent on acquiring leading-edge technology SMEs that are pioneers in advanced robotics and/or exploring concepts like machine learning and systems neuroscience. Google hit the headlines earlier this year when they bought UK start-up DeepMind whose expertise is general purpose learning algorithms. While this intellectual property can undoubtedly improve Google’s search capability, the longer term impact it could have is massive, prompting prominent observers to warn (again) of job destruction at a faster rate than new jobs can be generated with mass middle-class unemployment leading to social unrest! I.e., a White Collar Revolution!

Other commentators are predicting that future economic strength will depend on creating jobs that go way beyond logic and require a significant element of human ingenuity and creativity—jobs that are worth the high wages that we require to support our accustomed living standards!

If you weren’t already convinced, these trends up the ante for you, not your employer, to take on responsibility for your personal development. In these revolutionary times, it’s a survival imperative!

Excellence is NOT an institutional choice. Excellence is a PERSONAL choice.

Watch out for more on this topic at this blog, and sign up for a webinar on Friday 23rd April at 9am EST.

Excellence Academy 1

In 2013 TPC will be launching a Distance Learning Programme designed to help people focus on Excellence in their own situation. Here is an outline of our latest thinking. All input and reactions welcome!

Target Audience:

Small/medium sized business leaders, unit/team leaders and individual professionals. People who are looking for stimulation and support to develop and improve themselves and their teams, and have a more positive impact.


The Excellence Academy is a place to focus on aspects of your business that can benefit from change.

We will explore, discuss, and try out (new) approaches to increase the distinction and merit of your (and your team’s) work.

This involves improving self-awareness, and opening your mind up to alternative ways of working.

Programme Structure:

“You can’t just do what you know you should do. Why not? Because your subconscious (that is in charge of your daily activities) isn’t listening to what you have to say” Roger Schank, Teaching Minds, (2011)

To address this learning challenge, the Excellence Academy programme will be like a slow burning carbohydrate diet – ie it contains a sustained, steady delivery of energy. It will emphasize trying things out, practicing and learning from experience and will keep theoretical discussions to the minimum.

There will be a series of asynchronous modules, the first of which enables everyone to set their own excellence agenda for the next 180 days.

Subsequent modules (4?) will deal with a series of topics, expressed as problem or challenge statements, such as:

  • “the way ahead for me/us is far from clear”
  • “we/I need more intrapreneurship”
  • “our bureaucracy is strangling us”
  • “our workforce is too one-dimensional in its behaviour”
  • “we/I don’t have enough commitment from our employees/suppliers/partners”

We’ll choose a commonly accepted issue for the second module and finalise the remaining modules with input from participants. These will be chosen to make up a balanced Excellence agenda.

A final module will sum up the progress made and invite all participant to submit/present their work to others.

Module Structure:

The following broad structure will be used for each module which will run over a month:

  • Explore your current understanding of this topic (ie diagnose the ‘problem’ and its cause)
  • Consider alternative approaches/case studies/examples (ie. challenge people to look afresh at the subject and evaluate the comparative benefits of alternative approaches)
  • Take part in an activity that develops your understanding (ie explore alternative approaches in a safe environment and work in a team to achieve a result)
  • Decide on ways to incorporate new ways of working into your life (ie experiment with actions and that are different to your normal actions and use your influence to persuade others to co-operate)
  • Review and learn from experience of applying the new ideas (ie evaluate and judge your experience)
  • Record progress in your Portfolio (ie describe your new understanding/belief)

Teaching methods include:

  • Stories
  • Case Studies
  • Simulations
  • Games
  • Practice
  • Do and copy
  • Work in a team
  • Learn from mistakes (Do, try, fail, review, re-do)

Throughout the programme, everyone will build their own Excellence portfolio, which they use to record their actions, learning and developing awareness of the specific concept being studied. Portfolios are presented for any participant to read and comment on and everyone will be encouraged to do so.

Portfolio assessment by TPC can be offered as an optional (paid-for?) extra.

A Twitter Hashtag and facebook page will provide online commentary for participants.

Web Platform:

  • Regular (daily?) inspirational/reminder quotes will be sent
  • Course materials – video, audio, book references, white papers, articles, url links assessments, tools, provided
  • Course activities/discussions via online discussion board
  • Journal webspace to keep individual portfolio records
  • Occasional live discussions/webinars provided as required/desired


An initial charge of £250 followed by a monthly charge (£100pm) for access to Excellence Academy (Total £750).

2011 Update

As we approach the end of another year, it is a good chance to look back and reflect. Here are some of the highlights from the last year in TPC.

De-mystifying Excellence

Our Excellence Model, the Future Shape of the Winner (FSW), continues to be well received by clients and consultants alike. People really appreciate the simplicity of the model and the fact that it gives them a bird’s eye view of their progress on their Excellence agenda. It forces them to consider every angle – and to step up to challenges that they wouldn’t naturally take on. Here’s how one client summed up his reaction to the FSW model:

…by accepting our outdated IT systems as a barrier (which I had), I am effectively limiting the ability of this business to provide the best customer experience that we can, so your project has inspired me to demand our own IT system and stop our lack of high level decision making (to sell or not to sell the business) impact the customer experience for this business.

Your (FSW) project was a moment of divine intervention, which I sincerely thank you for.” Managing Director, UK based plc

You’ll get an idea of the style and approach if you take a look at our free Excellence Audit taster – the LITE version. Prices of a full audit begin at UK£250/US$400 for an individual audit.

21st Century Learning

Amongst this year’s headlines is the news is that I have finally graduated with a Masters Degree in Open and Distance Education from the Open University. It’s taken me several years, but on the back of this study, we’ve now had three serious sorties into the world of Distance Learning. Our 5-week FSW/Excellence Audit training programme has involved 21 consultants from literally all over the globe. “DL” is the learning medium that everyone is talking about, so expect to see more Distance Learning offerings from us in the future.

What’s your experience of Distance Learning? Have you got any requests for programmes in this format from TPC?

Spreading The Word!

After over 20 years of designing and delivering in-company development and training events in the US and Europe, TPC has decided the time is now right to move into new territories by licensing other “local” consultants to use our unique IP and workshop materials. The audience for Tom Peters’ ideas is truly global these days and we are getting more and more interest from people who want to access TPC services from far and wide.

We began during 2010-2011 by licensing consultants in the use of our Excellence Audit. In 2012 we are extending the licensing arrangements to include three of our best-loved training products, Brand You, WOW! Projects and Creating Value for Customers. Our partners are a well-established training company in South Africa, Business Results Group, who have had a successful track record of delivering licensed training products for over 15 years. Once we’ve got our head around how the deal will work for both parties, we’ll be looking for more partners based in markets that are new for us. All advice and contacts gratefully accepted!


The clients who have continued to work with TPC over the past three difficult years increasingly have one characteristic in common. Sure, they have continued to invest in the aspects that they think make their business different and special, but increasingly the source of this distinctive difference lies the discretionary extra contributions that their people routinely bring to the business. When it comes to competing in ever more difficult markets, copying products and avoiding copyright legislation seems to be getting easier and easier. Copying the contributions special people make to special businesses is quite the reverse!

What are you doing to keep yourself ahead of the pack?

Is 2012 going to be an Olympian Year for you?

Tom Peters and Bob Waterman were the first people to link the concept of Excellence with business way back in 1982 in In Search of Excellence. They and their McKinsey colleagues, Richard Pascale and Tony Athos, operationalised this thinking in the still-famous 7-S model (Structure, Systems, Strategy, Shared Values, Style, Staff, Skills).

Many of the ISOE concepts remain relevant today, but in the intervening years, much has changed in the world of business. For example, it’s hard to believe that Information Technology got not a single mention in the book! And of course it was long before the internet crashed into our lives and changed everything. These days employees are less compliant and more opinionated than their ‘mustn’t grumble‘ predecessors of the 70’s and 80’s; customers demand more and more for less and less; and competition has become truly global. The current global economic crisis seems to be bringing this turbulent era to an anxious climax. Who knows what the next era will bring?

Tom has continued reflecting on the changing  world in his speaking, writing, blogging and (more recently) tweeting. In TPC, we decided our contribution would be to create an Excellence Operating model that would help people to convert Tom’s ideas into action. Like the 7S model, our Future Shape of the Winner™ Excellence model also has seven elements. But unlike 7S, we position people (‘Talent’ in our terminology) at the core of the model.  Leaders that manage to get the best out of their people have somehow managed to get the right balance between those various elements for their own situation.

To accompany our Excellence Model, we have a measurement instrument called the Excellence Audit™. Users rate themselves against our 50 Excellence Characteristics, and identify areas for future improvement. The definition of Excellence that is produced is therefore unique to each customer, as is the improvement agenda they create.

Reactions from users of the audit have been very positive, with some admitting that simply completing the audit was a useful experience – even before they saw their results. Here’s what one of them recently said:

“Just rating our company against the 50 Excellence characteristics helped me to become more open minded, to have a more ambitious picture of what we had to do to “reach excellence”, and to see how things were out of balance.” Fernando Marazón, General Manager, Grup MH, Barcelona

For the first time in our history, TPC is delighted to have an affordable tool that we can offer to any leader of any team, large or small, anywhere in the world. Participants complete the survey online, and results can be delivered in many formats. We also have a growing cadre of independent consultants around the world that are authorised to use this material with clients.

The start of another year is a great time to use this tool. As we look ahead to 2012, what are the challenges that you face?

  • How ready are you/your team for what’s ahead?
  • Are your people engaged enough in your plans?
  • Are you stretching your ambitions as far as you can?
  • Are your relationships with your people as good as they should be?

If you answered “No” or “Not Sure” to any of these questions, maybe the Excellence Audit can help you? Take a look at sample statements from the Excellence Audit on our Excellence Audit Lite, and contact TPC ( to find out more and get a quote.

Here’s wishing you a happy holiday season ahead and a successful 2012!

Full Steam Ahead!

It’s that time of year again! However well we’ve done on meeting this year’s targets, 2011 looms large. So what does next year look like for your business? What fresh initiatives are you dreaming up to add impetus to your efforts?

If you are finding the challenge a bit uninspiring, it could be that others in the organization can provide some fresh insights.  TPC’s Excellence Audit is designed to do exactly that.

In one recent audit, the boss of a manufacturing organization that has weathered the recession surprisingly well was keen to build on the year’s success. He instinctively felt that he was getting moderate rather than excellent levels of commitment. As well as his executive team colleagues, he chose a broad range of people that he trusted from right across the organization, and asked them to complete the audit.

His data pointed him squarely at specific aspects of leadership in which he and his executive team were found lacking; in particular people questioned whether innovation and innovators were valued, and did not feel enough effort was put into their development

Here are some of the verbatim comments which put a bit more relief around their survey scores:

  • “Our Function doesn’t encourage us to think about self-development. This makes it hard to stay self-motivated.”
  • “Leaders give too much time to day to day and operating stuff (they generally “do” too much). A way should be found to dedicate more time to strategy, tactics and implementation around people”
  • “Although management gives the sales force the impression that they do not trust them, the salesforce has a very, very high level of self-motivation. Management should be happy having such persons.”
  • “Not everyone currently demonstrates high commitment. I see that we have departmental thinking and it seems that different goals among Functions reduce commitment.”

These audit results sparked a lively debate amongst the executive team. We discussed reward and recognition and whether their moderation in these areas was stifling innovation. We also debated their conservatism around investing in people; what kind of message was that giving about the confidence they had in people?

We went on to discuss how to incorporate the survey findings into their plans for the year. Times are difficult, and there is not much spare money around, but it turns out there is a lot that can be done at very little extra cost;) Here are just three of the decisions the team made:

  1. They will choose a small number of projects and use them as development for their people; invitations will go to people who don’t normally get considered, and they will encourage the team to be creative and come up with ideas outside of the norm.
  2. They will target themselves on regularly finding and acknowledging individual acts of excellence.
  3. They will host a meeting of all the survey participants to discuss the results of the ExAud and to make a commitment to act on the feedback. Who knows what else will surface as ideas for improvement from that meeting?

So, one way or another, next year’s plans will definitely have a different flavor.

How does 2011 look to you? What is going to be different about the plans you are making?

Are you ready to Get Going?

I well remember a big “debate” that flared up in Tom Peters Company some years ago when, at the end of a successful client project, a senior colleague here bragged that we had “changed Company X!” Tom’s response to this claim, well the printable version anyway, was:“People and organizations, if they do change, change themselves. At best, we consultants can hold their individual/collective hands, and whisper words of wisdom and encouragement, which will never be heard until the exact accidental moment when they are ready to hear them for their own sweet reasons!

This was the thinking behind our annual Summer Research Project this year. We had been detecting a distinct shift in the tone of conversations with some of our clients during the spring and wanted to find out more. Despite their weariness (and wariness!) from the recession, people were ready to look ahead. It appeared to be, as Tom said, an accidental moment when some people at least were ready to move on.

We decided to invite a cross section of people from our network to have a free go at the Excellence Audit™, our online tool designed to help leaders compile their own description of what Excellence looks like and to consider how they currently shape up against it. We were pleased to find that a highly disparate group of participants, 143 people from 29 countries and 6 continents, took up our offer! Some feedback we heard:

This has forced me to think about what was important for our clients and staff as distinct from what was good for us (managers) alone.”

By accepting our outdated IT systems as a barrier (which I had), I am effectively limiting the ability of this business to provide the best customer experience that we can. This has inspired me to demand our own IT system from the Group and to stop our lack of high level decision making impacting customer experience in my business. Whilst spending most of last year at warp factor nine, the Excellence Audit was a moment of divine intervention!

(I think this is at least one person who was ready to hear!)


So what is the potential take away from this for readers who did not participate in the Summer Research Project? If you are at the point where you want to leave the malaise of the recession behind you, my suggestion is to devote some time now to working out where you most need to make progress. My guess is that you already have a good inkling of where you should be focusing your improvement efforts. And if you don’t, I’m sure your employees, partners and clients will enlighten you if you find the right way to ask them! You can also take a look at the findings of our Research Project – you might get ideas from where others are seeing the need to move on.If you take a look at the Tom Peters Website, you’ll find many different inputs and titbits from Tom that can help you construct your own excellence action agenda. Two in particular I would recommend are his new master slide set. Another is his new Synopsis series, which incorporates highlights from his recent book, The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence .

To get a personal copy of the Summer Research Project Report, contact We’ll be happy to share all our findings.

Good luck, and do let us know how you get on!

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

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?