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In Search Of Excellence: Critique

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Peter's & Waterman write of marketing but never refer to the marketing concept. However, is the philosophy of the marketing concept crucial to the theme of the book? Or, is the marketing concept compromised by the authors' interest in a product orientation.

The marketing concept's ultimate goal in essence is to satisfy an organisation's clientele, while at the same time enabling the company to survive and prosper. It stresses consumer-orientation in all facets of a company's operation. It also emphasises adoption of a cross-functional perspective so that everyone within the organisation can have some impact on the organisation's success in both the profitability and at the consumer level. (Zikmund / D'Amico 2002)

Peters and Waterman's In Search of Excellence: lessons from America's Best Run Companies does adhere to the marketing concept albeit not directly. They strongly support the idea that an organisation is only as good as the people who work within that organisation. Although there is some emphasis on sales and product orientation, much of this stems from the organisation wanting to provide the highest quality product or service for the consumer.

Peters & Waterman see excellent companies along the lines of "a sound mind in a healthy body". They acknowledge the need for profit, but see it as secondary to consumer orientation. As expounded by one executive Peters & Waterman spoke to, "Profit is like health. You need it, and the more the better. But it's not why you exist." (Peters & Waterman 1982)

The marketing concept is personified in Peters and Waterman's example of Joe Girard who consistently sells twice as many cars in a year than his nearest competitor. His success is put down to the fact that he makes the customer feel that the relationship is not over once the sale has been made. Joe sends Christmas cards, Easter cards and friendly letters, reminding the customer that he cares for them, not only for their money. Whether this is true or not, Joe leaves the customer feeling as if they have made the right choice. And this is, in turn is good for Joe Girard's long term prosperity. (Peters & Waterman 1982)

In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies never mentions The Marking Concept, but the underlying principles are still seen in the qualities exhibited by the excellent companies. Fritos-Lay's dedication to their customers goes above and beyond expectation. Hewlett Packard encourages employees to "tinker" with other employee's designs and Disney's "Cross Utilisation week" where executives don character costumes or man food stands or rides both illustrate a cross-functional policy. Not to mention that Peters & Waterman's excellent companies were selected based in part on profitability and long term success (Peters & Waterman 1982). So, although not overt in their use of The Marketing Concept, it is clear that these excellent companies mentioned in Peters & Waterman's In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies adhere strongly to its principles.

Discuss the strengths of Part One and Part Two of the book.

Apart from being written in an anecdotal style, which is extremely easy and enjoyable to read, In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies provides a relatively simplistic formula for management effectiveness. It reinforces what we should already know, but may have lost sight of over the years.

In Part One, Peters and Waterman emphasise the need to keep things simple. They describe the McKinsey 7-S Framework of Structure, Strategy, Systems, Skills, Staff, Style and Shared Values. These 7 elements are interconnected and is an effective representation for a business model in that it is designed to acknowledge change within an organization. (Peters & Waterman 1982)

Peters and Waterman also identify Eight Basic Principles for an excellent company. These eight characteristics stress customer orientation, respect for the employees of an organization, being value driven rather than simply profit driven, innovation and risk taking and love for the product you are producing. (Peters & Waterman 1982)

Peters and Waterman's research has shown that excellent companies thrive by sticking to the basics instead of becoming bogged down by a convoluted theory of management. The excellent companies kept things simple in a complex and changing world. They listened to their employees and encouraged innovation. And they would bend over backwards for their customers. (Peters & Waterman 1982)

Peters and Waterman's excellent companies aren't bound by planning - they are flexible in their approach and recognize and welcome, rather than fear, change within their organization. (Peters & Waterman 1982)

In articulating this simple formula for success, Peters and Waterman have shed light on the failings of some organizations by holding their excellent



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