A sharper insight into Tom Peters comes from fellow guru Richard Pascale, who, on his recent visit to London, explained the origins of the 'Seven-S' formula - the frame-work for measuring corporate excellence which was devised jointly by Pascale and Peters, along with fellow McKinseyites Tony Athos and Robert Waterman.
Athos and Pascale had been invited to San Francisco by Peters and Waterman 'to spend a week in a small room talking about what we knew and didn't know about organisations'. Somewhat daunted by the close confines of the setting and knowing, through experience, of Peters's maniacal, scattershot approach, Athos suggested to Pascale that they create a day-by-day agenda to focus the discussion. Given McKinsey's strength in developing 'strategy', they opted to start there on the Monday. On Tuesday came 'structure', on Wednesday 'systems' and so forth until they had planned the entire week.
Hence, reflects Pascale, 'the Seven-Ss was really an agenda to control Tom Peters'. Even better, he says, it worked. 'We survived the week and it turned out that the tool of thinking in those categories was actually very useful'.