A Passion for Excellence Summary
by Nancy Austin, Thomas J. Peters

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A Passion for Excellence

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Many business writers criticized IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE for being simplistic because it limited its analysis of business organizations to eight specific dimensions. This book takes the simplification a step further: It is a quest to describe the most fundamental common denominators of business success.

How does one begin such a project? The authors maintain that it can be done by studying the qualities which characterize organizations that have shown extraordinary growth in markets which are extremely competitive. Firms qualifying for such distinction include People’s Express Airline, Domino’s Pizza, Hewlett-Packard, Mervyn’s Department Stores, and the Apple Computer Corporation.

At the end of their quest, the authors find four essential ingredients that explain business success: customer concern, a willingness to innovate, and motivated employees all bonded together by the crucial fourth element--management leadership that is dedicated to excellence. While this recipe may sound too simple to some management skeptics, the bulk of the book illustrates these points repeatedly with well-crafted organizational anecdotes.

At the most basic level, one finds here a series of brief organizational histories--what business executives sometimes call “war stories"--which make for interesting reading. At best, the reader finds an enthusiasm for simplicity which reminds one that business essentially involves managing people in order to match products with markets. Managers seeking a fun-to-read primer that drives home the fundamentals of good management need look no farther.