October 31, 2006
News & Opinion: Tom Peters Is Crazy
In a good way of course. In this great post titled Henry Mintzberg Is Crazy, Peters lauds Mintzbergs The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning as probably my favorite management book of the past 25 years. In a rambling (Tom Peters? No!) post, Peters touches upon James Bond, Peter Drucker, Herbert Simon, and more. Great quote:
The point of all this, relative to the German reporter's comment about Mintzberg, and implication about me, is that we are not "nutters." We come from a clear academic lineageand are simply recent manifestations thereof. We both have contempt for the rationalists among us. (Mintzberg, amazingly, may be a more vociferous critic of Biz Schools than I am.) Our "advice," such as it is, comes from the premise of the ineluctable mess with which we (and our institutions) are permanently surrounded.
Jack, Todd and I all enjoyed this post. Personally, I love the way that Peters uses his rich knowledge of business ideas to cite entire books as a form of managerial shorthand. He can dig deep through a trove of managerial know-how and point to a few key works, such as Mintzbergs book, as a way of sharing key information in more than a simple sound bite. He is a master at riffing on business books, extracting the core ideas and weaving them into a cool short piece, in this case about the merits of mess versus the benefits of policies.
However, on a personal level, I felt the attached pdf of a Peters presentation weakened the power of his argument. I am a huge Tom Peters fanbut Im not sure that I want to slog through what writer Annie Lamott calls a shitty first draft of his thinking. After citing the importance of chaos and looseness, Peters then undermines his point by presenting a sloppy and unedited powerpoint meant to amplify this point. Even the most powerful ideas about the power of spontaneity benefit from a second draft.