“The Little BIG Things” by Tom Peters

The Little BIG Things

Don’t settle for “better”; strive for Excellence with the help of “The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence” (2010) by author, speaker, blogger, and Excellence guru Tom Peters.

The key concept of “The Little BIG Things” is that Excellence (with a capital “E”) is a pursuit, not a goal. It expands on the motto, “Hard is soft. Soft is hard” – that is, the “soft things (like quality, relationships, and values) are more important than the “hard” things (like numbers, analysis, and strategy) in business – and in life.

The book is based on Peters’ blog at tompeters.com and is arranged into 41 categories, such as Little, Excellence, Words, Lunch, Listening, Curiosity, Grunge, Wow, and Big. Peters gives us 163 ways to get started right now – before you even finish the book.

It was hard, but here are my top ten little BIG things:

1. It’s all about the restrooms. A clean and attractive and even imaginative loo is the best “We Care” sign in a store or office. (#1)

2. A crisis is not an opportunity; it’s a test of character. Treat your competitors with decency. (#12)

3. Show up! (#50)

4. C(I) > C(E), or Internal Customers (within your company) are more important than External Customers (who pay the bills). (#64)

5. MBWA (Manage By Wandering Around). Get up from your desk, get out of your office, walk around, and talk to people. (#87)

6. Celebrate “Disturbers of the Peace,” both angry customers and pissed-off employees, because all innovation comes from fury. (#110)

7. Take time out for daydreaming; it helps you strategize. (#125)

8. The Two-Cent Candy Phenomenon: a “little” parting gesture, like a candy jar on a desk, shouts Excellence and shows that you care. (#131)

9. “Every person who makes it into the history books is by definition insanely disobedient.” (#136)

10. Organizations are people serving people. They exist to serve, by developing the people within (employees) and satisfying the people without (customers). (#140)

Peters’ writing is conversational, energetic, enthusiastic, and absolutely exhausting. He offers concise, eye-opening tips, sometimes variations on the same theme; attention-getting type; numerous quotations; and many recommended books (I’ve already added to my reading list). I really enjoyed Peters’ experiences, insight, and passion. “The Little BIG Things” has become one my favorite business books.

And it’s all about getting started right now. Peters challenges, “If not Excellence, What? If not Excellence Now, When?”

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