In pursuit of an encore to In Search of Excellence (1982), Waterman has taken a less portentous approach than erstwhile...


THE RENEWAL FACTOR: How the Best Get and Keep the Competitive Edge

In pursuit of an encore to In Search of Excellence (1982), Waterman has taken a less portentous approach than erstwhile co-author Tom Peters (reviewed above). But managers seeking ways or means to keep their organizations abreast of changing times will find at best allusive guidance in his paean to renewal. Drawing on a research sample that encompasses exemplary institutions as well as corporations--Ford, GE, Humana, IBM, and San Francisco's Fine Arts Museum, among 50-odd others--Waterman offers by-the-numbers briefings on a wealth of topics. To begin with, he presents renewal as an eight-part proposition whose elements extend to ""informed opportunism,"" willingness to look into ""a different mirror,"" teamwork, ""stability in motion,"" et al. The mathematic motif recurs throughout. To illustrate, the author cites 12 possibilities for improving attitudes and attention; he also has a 10-step program for facing and capitalizing on facts, plus a dozen proposals on corporate commitments. There's even a 7-C (for capability) framework, which updates the 7-S (for skills) counterpart from In Search of Excellence. Like most consultants, Waterman is fond of buzzwords; his choices range from the trendy (e.g., empowerment) through the technical (stochastic). He has a taste for paradox as well; oxymoronic cases in point include congenial controls and directed autonomy. Open to question, though, is whether Waterman's capsule can-do counsel represents an accurate tabulation of common denominators that permit disparate enterprises to rejuvenate themselves. Attentive readers will recall that many of the companies he helped identify as excellent five years ago have since come a cropper. Nor is it at all certain that the author's attractively packaged to-do lists and anecdotal advisories afford much more than quick-fix solutions to either Structural problems or marketplace challenges. In this context, it's worth noting that no major supplier of vacuum tubes managed to develop a viable, let alone profitable, capacity in solid-state electronics. Easy, even fun, to read, but a manual that's longer on style than substance.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1987