What Ever Happened to WOW!

“I think work and business can be creative and exciting, a hoot, a growth experience, a journey of lifelong learning and constant surprise. But, to be honest, I think such rewards will only be yours if you learn to approach your career and enterprise with the strategy I call…THE PURSUIT OF WOW!”

–          Tom Peters, The Pursuit of WOW!

I was re-reading Tom Peters 1994 best seller, The Pursuit of WOW! and I came across a list of what Peters called Values for the ‘90s. This was a list of 10 aspirations that the author felt would provide some guidance for any size company attempting to achieve business excellence as they tried to navigate the ever changing world of the last few years of the 20th century and beyond.

Here is the list. It is as appropriate today as it was when Peters wrote his book. As you read the list, ask yourself if any or all of the values apply to your company, and if some or all don’t, why not?

Here is the list.

1.    Do fabulous work and be known around the world for your innovativeness.

2.    Attract exciting people – more than a few of whom are a little offbeat.

3.    Raise hell, constantly question “the way things are done around here,” and never, ever rest on your laurels. (Today’s laurels are tomorrow’s compost.)

4.    Make sure that those who leave your company, voluntarily or involuntarily, can testify to having learned a lot, having had special experience, and having made fast friends while they were employed. (You shall be known by your alumni.)

5.    Have a collegial, supportive, yeasty, zany, laughter-filled environment where folks support one another, and politics is as absent as it can be in a human (i.e., imperfect) enterprise.

6.    Ensure that no question or innuendo ever surfaces about your ethics.

7.    Dot the “I”s, cross the “t”s, answer the phones promptly, send out errorless invoices, and in general never forget that the devil is in the details.

8.    Work with exciting customers (and other partners) who turn you on and stretch you, from whom you can learn, and with whom you enjoy associating (and who pay their bills on time, too).

9.    Take in substantially more money than you spend (where spending includes above-average compensation and a very high level of investment in the future).

10.                       Grow via quality services and customers, not via growth for growth’s sake.

So, how did your company do? Any values on this list of ten that you feel your company is not doing? Can you, owner, manager, business leader help your company improve in any of these areas?

I can think of a some companies that live these values each and every day, Zappos, Groupon, SAS, HEB, just to name a few.  I can think of far too many that only pay lip service to most of the listed values and many that don’t make any attempt to embrace them at all. You would think that over the last 17 years since the book was published, the vast majority of company leaders would read this list and say ”We do that. Those are our values. It is one of the reasons we are so successful.”

In this dog eat dog world of business today, are you pursuing the WOW! Or is the (Bow)WOW! pursuing you?


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