'Without hesitation, I would choose In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert H Waterman Jr. I found that it expressed clearly and very readably that there is so much more to a successful company than just process and strategy. Passion and culture were critically important as well. As someone who'd worked during every school and university holiday since the age of 15, I had seen both outstandingly good and outstandingly bad examples of shop-floor culture.
When I first read this book as a young manager in my late twenties, I found that it expressed so much of what I had already come to believe were the real differentiators in terms of service quality and leadership.
Since then, the book has been one of my guiding influences. Despite being written more than 20 years ago now, this book is just as relevant and accurate to today's businesses as it ever was. I believe it should be compulsory reading for every consumer services business, and for every professional manager.'