Tom Peters

The “excellence” guy.


Recipient of the Thinkers50 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.


Ranked #24 in 2011.


In Search of Excellence (co-written with Robert Waterman) was featured on the Thinkers50 Management Classics Booklist in 2022.


Peters’ seminal book, In Search of Excellence, remains a key work in our understanding of organizations and management. It introduced concepts – such as MBWA (managing by walking about) – which have stood the test of time, while his 1992 book, Liberation Management, really set the management agenda for the 1990s and beyond. At the heart of Peters’ business philosophy is a deep belief in the power and potential of people. In the digital age, he reminds us that we can embrace the latest technology while retaining our humanity.


Born in Baltimore in 1942 “with a lacrosse stick in one hand and oars over my shoulder,” Peters was on a list of “100 most powerful people in Silicon Valley”, from 1965–2000. A civil engineering graduate of Cornell he earned his MBA and a PhD in business at Stanford. In the US Navy from 1966–1970, Peters made two deployments to Vietnam and “survived a tour in the Pentagon.” After a stint as a White House drug-abuse advisor, he worked at McKinsey & Co from 1974–1981, becoming a partner in 1979. Peters also co-founded McKinsey’s now gargantuan Organization Effectiveness practice and in 1981, founded Skunkworks Inc. and The Tom Peters Company.


In Search of Excellence (with Robert Waterman, 1982); A Passion for Excellence (with Nancy Austin, 1985); Thriving on Chaos (1987); Liberation Management (1992); The Tom Peters Seminar (1993); The Pursuit of WOW! (1994); The Circle of Innovation (1997); The Brand You 50 (1999); Sixty: This I Believe (2002); Re-imagine! (2003); Essentials: Leadership: Inspire, Liberate, Achieve (2005); Essentials: Design: Innovate, Differentiate, Communicate (2005); Essentials: Trends: Recognize, Analyze, Capitalize (with Martha Barletta, 2005); Essentials: Talent: Develop It, Sell It, Be It (2005); The Little BIG Things (2010).


Media picks


“If Peter Drucker ‘invented’ management, Tom Peters vivified it.” 

Warren Bennis

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