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IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE .. history or fiction?


In Search of Excellence was first published in 1982, it sold three million copies in its first four years & was the most widely held monograph in USA from 1989-2006 The book explores the art and science of management of the so-called best companies in USA, which comprised the pick of companies in the 1980s.


Looking back, the reasons for the self- belief of the authors in particular and of America in general, were not totally misplaced although there were red flags.

The Vietnam war had ended in 1975, with a crushing sense of the limitation of USA's military power, the Soviet Union break up would not be a reality until 1991.


Almost 40 years after its original publication In Search of Excellence remains a widely read classic and an influential book for leaders and managers. Inc. magazine reported that by March 1999 over 4.5 million copies ere sold & was the most influential business & management book between 1980 - 2000.


Interestingly, nearly two-thirds of all “excellent” companies discussed in the book, have gone bankrupt or were acquired by other firms. Also, Fast Company published an article in 2001 entitled "Tom Peters's True Confessions". One of the confessions, however, used the term "faked data" which was denied by Peters.


But among the top 15 in 1982 were companies like Bechtel, Boeing, Caterpillar Inc., Dana, Delta Airlines, Digital Equipment, Emerson Electric, Fluor, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's, Procter & Gamble and 3M. Most of these companies are still among the elite in transnational corporate behemoths.


With the seismic changes in the world of business, where now, the companies that matter are Microsoft, Apple, Google, Tesla, Uber & Amazon, the older players remain relevant. Amidst the rise & fall & rise of Silicon Valley & the technology paradigm change, it still appears that management skill is non-negotiable.


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