Yo Tom. Well no, perhaps not. Not today anyway. Tom Peters, at the start of his latest European tour needs a little drawing-out. He's not in the striding-around-throwing-off-fireworks mood right now. Maybe he's jet-lagged. Maybe this hotel room is a size too small. Or maybe he's just conserving his energy. He's 52, after all. He used to do up to 150 seminars a year, until he found such violent exercise 'bad for body and soul'. The number is currently down to 50 or 60, although more people take part in each one.
People go on searching the bookshelves for In Search of Excellence, too, a dozen years after it first appeared, and despite the fact that Excellence is now acknowledged to have had its day. Peters admits that he and co-author Bob Waterman 'badly underestimated the rate of change ... I now define Excellence in terms of ability to adapt.' These days, quite a lot of firms are learning the chameleon skills of adaptation, even how to thrive on chaos. And managements everywhere are busily liberating themselves and their subordinates. So what's new this time? Presumably, the lesson is taken from his latest volume, rather stuffily entitled Crazy Times Call for Crazy Organizations?
'One of the major messages is More, More, More,' replies Peters. He professes to be amused that his teachings are occasionally ('and not so occasionally') regarded as 'far out'. He accepts that he uses 'extreme examples', in order to nudge people in the right direction. 'But the examples are real examples,' he insists. The facts are facts, which he has merely stolen for his own purposes. He disclaims ever having had an idea himself.
Such modesty smacks of Montaigne: 'I have only made up a bunch of other men's flowers, providing of my own only the string that ties them together.' Well, the Frenchman achieved immortality nevertheless.