Re-Imagine (my favorite book)

By Tom Peters
Table of Contents
Foreword: I’m Mad as Hell

Business is cool. Or at least it can be. But bankrupt “business practices” keep us from reckoning fully with the workplace revolution that is now under way. In the New Economy, people must grasp the power that comes with taking responsibility for their professional lives. The harsh news (but also the exciting news): THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL.

Introduction: New War. New Business.

On September 11, 2001, a tiny band of Internet-savvy fundamentalists humbled the world’s only superpower. The terrorists conceived the ultimate “virtual organization”—fast, wily, flexible, determined. And then they trumped the bureaucratic behemoths lined up against them. This is not a book about the war on terror. But it is a book about the war on terror. It is about the failure of organizations invented for another era.


Chapter 1. Re-imagining the World: All Bets Are Off

We are in the midst of redefining our basic ideas about what enterprise and organization and even being human are—about how value is created and how careers are pursued. Welcome to a world where “value” (damn near all value!) is based on intangibles—not lumpy objects, but weightless figments of the Economic Imagination. We are in “a brawl with no rules.” What can we do? Relish the Mess! Enjoy the Fray!

Chapter 2. Control Alt Delete: The Destruction Imperative

Destruction. Try swallowing that word. See how it tastes. It won’t digest comfortably. Not at first. But digest it you must, because destruction is the order of the day. Building “to last”? Arrogant and offensive. Bulking up? Stupid. Not even “good management” will cut it. Big, established, well-run companies invariably fail to innovate. They play it safe, they tinker—when, in fact, the Siren Call today must be “Destroy and Rebuild.”


Chapter 3. In the Crosshairs: White-Collar Cataclysm

A prediction: At least 80 percent of white-collar jobs, as we know them today, will either disappear or be reconfigured beyond recognition—in just the next 15 years. White-collar employment as we’ve known it is dead. Job security as we’ve known it is over. Over and gone. And good riddance. Are you ready? Enjoy yourself. (It’s later than you think.)

Chapter 4. Infotech Changes Everything: “On the Bus” or “Off the Bus”?

The Internet allows us to dream previously undreamed-of dreams. The dream of Huge Customer Savings … of Seamless Transactions … of Entire New Communities. The Web and other new technologies shift control from managers to employees, and from companies to their customers. Too often, fear of losing control keeps Web Nirvana out of reach. But those who Get on the Bus—who embrace Total Enterprise Reinvention—will benefit from learning a powerful lesson: Web = Everything. (Or else.)


Chapter 5. From “Cost Center” to Stardom: The PSF/Professional Service Firm Transformation

You work in purchasing, or logistics, or finance, or human resources, or information systems. So who are you? Are you “overhead”? Is it your lot in life to be a “cost center”? No! You are a Rock Star, a Revolutionary, a Champion of Bold Change, a Re-imagineer! Or at least you can be. But first you must re-imagine your job on the model of the Professional Service Firm. You must recast yourself as a provider of Creative Intellectual Capital. Down with “departments.” Up with PSFs!

Chapter 6. PSFs Mean Business: The Solutions Imperative

We race around. We follow each others’ tails. “Good stuff” has become commonplace. Which means that the bar for “standing out” has risen dramatically. But something is happening, something big: Where “products” and “services” once were, now there are “solutions.” Industry leaders everywhere are moving in the same direction—away from selling commodities (however “excellent” these may be) and toward the turnkey provision of integrated systems and services.

Chapter 7. Welcome to XF/Cross-Functional World: The Solutions50

Old Economy, New Economy. “Services,” “Solutions.” The story is always the same: “If we could just [just!] get folks to talk to one another …” Re-imagining the enterprise—in the form of “on the bus” Web strategy, or a Professional Service Firm model, or the provision of “integrated solutions”—will work only if we knock down the walls that separate us. A list of 50 barrier-breaking ideas.


Chapter 8. Beyond Solutions: Providing Memorable “Experiences”

Moving up the value chain means offering Something More. It means emphasizing the Soft Attributes of “products” and “services”—attributes such as convenience, warmth, companionship, beauty, trust, and Being Seriously Cool. There is a word that sums up all of those attributes: Experience. This is not a semantic quibble. It is the Essence of Life in the New Economy. And billions and billions of dollars are at stake.

Chapter 9. ExperiencesPlus: Embracing the “Dream Business”

The “experience” idea is a big stretch for many people in business. But we must stretch our minds, and our vocabularies, even further. Next stop on the value train: Dreams. As one business visionary put it, a dream amounts to “an opportunity to help clients become what they want to be.” This is not pie in the sky. “Dream” products provide returns to shareholders that far outpace the returns from “common” products. So, are you ready to enter the Dream Business?

Chapter 10. Design: The “Soul” of New Enterprise

Most people consider design a surface thing, a “prettifying” thing, an after-the-fact cosmetic-makeover thing. But rightly understood, design—Great Design—is about soul. It is as essential to great services as it is to great products. It is as present in everyday objects as it is in luxury goods. And it is at the Top of the Agenda at every truly great company. Again, billions and billions of dollars are at stake. And so is our collective soul.

Chapter 11. Design’s Long Coattails: Beautiful Systems

When we think about “systems” and “services,” we think about nuts and bolts—the dirty engineering details that go into creating something that will “get the job done.” And yet most of the trouble that businesses get into is directly attributable to the ugliness of their systems and processes. Consider every systemic element in your company—a recruitment process, say, or a training course. Is it simple? Is it clear? Is it graceful? Is it beautiful? If not, why not?

Chapter 12. The Ultimate Value Proposition: The Heart of Branding

Everyone knows that branding is more important than ever. “Brilliant” product or service offerings are not just the starting point; the endgame is all about establishing an Identity that Inspires. But not everyone understands that branding is about meaning, not marketing—about deep company logic, not fancy new logos. Who are you? Why are you here? That is the Heart of Branding.


Chapter 13. TrendsWorthTrillion$$$ I: Women Roar

Bankers and carmakers and hoteliers and healthcare providers (and countless other business leaders) just don’t get it. American women account for more than half of U.S. GDP. They are the instigator-in-chief of most consumer purchases, and of more and more business purchases. Yet companies treat women as a “niche” market, or else ignore this market altogether. Women are the Main Game—because, to quote bank robber Willie Sutton, “That’s where the money is.”

Chapter 14. TrendsWorthTrillion$$$ II: Boomer Bonanza

We are getting older. Populations in the industrialized world are aging. Fast. And the meaning of “older” and “aging” is changing. Radically. The business logic is unimpeachable: The “new mature” are numerous, and growing more so. They are astonishingly wealthy. They have decades of free-spending years left. They are accustomed to being well served by commercial enterprise. They are now being ill served by commercial enterprise. This trend is big. So must be our response to it.


Chapter 15. Making Work Matter: The WOW Project

Project: a task that has a beginning and end, as well as deliverables along the way. WOW Project: a task that has goals and objectives that inspire you. That inspire others. That make a difference. That take your breath away. A WOW Project is not Just Another Mediocre Success. No, a WOW Project starts with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal and ends by leaving a legacy.

Chapter 16. No Limits: WOW Projects for the “Powerless”

Getting things done is not about formal “power” or official “rank.” It is about passion and imagination and persistence. There you are, low person on the organizational totem pole, seemingly “powerless” to create your own WOW Project—and yet enamored of some Seriously Cool Idea. Here’s what you do: Find a Freaky Friend who supports your efforts. Then find a way (any way) to prototype your idea. And keep on doing that until the power of that idea overwhelms those higher up on the totem pole. Above all, do something!

Chapter 17. Boss Work: Heroes, Demos, Stories

Regardless of your official rank, “ordering” change is a waste of time. The goal of boss work must be this: Turn your company into a place where amazing stuff is always percolating. How do you do that? There is one and only one way: Find Heroes (exemplars of an Exciting New Way of Doing Things). Do Demos (palpable proof that this Exciting New Way is eminently doable). Tell Stories (riveting tales that fire the imagination of heroes-in-waiting).

Chapter 18. Bringing WOW Work to Fruition: The Sales25

Whether you’re a junior staffer in purchasing or a finance director or President of the United States, getting things done is mostly a matter of sales. It is a matter of getting people inflamed about your idea, of inducing them to sign on with you and then to stick with you through thick and thin. You may well be a technical virtuoso in your chosen field. But now it’s time to sharpen your “soft” skills—and to master the rules of Sales and (yes) Politics. A list of 25 enthusiasm-generating ideas.


Chapter 19. Re-imagining the Individual: Life in a Brand You World

The white-collar jobs of yesteryear are fast disappearing. Hence we must find Entirely New Ways to Add Value. Our only option: moving beyond any activity that is even remotely “rote,” and moving up (way up) the Creativity Scale. We must convert ourselves into Genuine Businesspeople, and cease to be mere cubicle slaves. Whether or not we are on some company’s payroll, we must behave as if each of us is the CEO of Me Inc. The new mantra: Distinct … or Extinct.

Chapter 20. Boss Job One: The Talent25

We have entered an Age of Talent. People (their creativity, their intellectual capital, their entrepreneurial drive) is all there is. Enterprises that master the market for talent will do better than ever. But to attract and retain the Awesome Talent, an organization must offer up an Awesome Place to Work—a place where people not only get paid “their due,” but also get to do Great Things. A list of 25 people-prioritizing ideas.

Chapter 21. Meet the New Boss: Women Rule

Great Talent is in short supply. So can we afford to ignore half (or, indeed, more than half) of our store of potential Great Talent? Well, no! Women remain a woefully neglected source of talent per se. But, more to the point, they also possess strengths that match the leadership needs of the New Economy to a startling and significant degree. Ergo, accelerating the movement of women into leadership roles is a Strategic Imperative of the highest order.

Chapter 22. Getting It Right at the Start: Education for a Creative & Self-Reliant Age

Our school system is a thinly disguised conspiracy to quash creativity. That would be a troubling fact at any point in history. But this is not “any point in history.” We are at an inflection point—a moment at which we are re-imagining everything. Everything, that is, except the education system. To this day, our schools are driven by rituals created for another age, and for another economy. And the modern “school reform” movement amounts to a Giant Step Backward.


Chapter 23. The High Value-Added Bedrock: Think Weird

Innovation is easy! Fundamental proposition: Hang out with “weird”—and you will become more weird. Hang out with “dull”—and you will become more dull. Real innovation is all about force. Forcing yourself into contact with those who will pull you in directions that are significantly different from your prior path. In an Age of High Standard Deviation, the only viable response to weirdness is to Get Weird.

Chapter 24. In Search of Excellence: A Three-Generation Report Card

In 1982, In Search of Excellence hit the best-seller lists by putting forth a Very Wild Idea: What separates the winners in business from the losers is not the Brilliance of the Strategic Plan. It is, rather, the way that a company organizes and motivates its people. Twenty-some years later, that truth—and the eight principles that underlie it—have proven their staying power. A review of those “eight basics” as they have evolved from 1962 to 2002 (and beyond).

Chapter 25. Thriving in a Disruptive Age: The Leadership50

Leadership is … Joyous! Horrible! Cool! Lonely! Not what you think! It is also … the Ultimate New Mandate: It’s an apt prism though which to summarize this book-length journey through our Disruptive Age. It’s a never-ending project with a breathtakingly simple (and breathtakingly difficult) core objective: Re-imagine! A list of 50 change-promoting ideas.


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