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Why an Excellence Academy?

May 13, 2014

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘white collar revolution’ before – Tom Peters used the phrase in his work matters series of books. And like so many of his predictions, the idea of a revolution transforming the world of the white collar worker, in much the same way as blue collar work had been in the preceding decades, has now become a mainstream concept.

Whether your country’s economy is now recovering from the ravages of the global recession or is still bumping along the bottom, The White Collar Revolution will continue unabated. We all face the challenge of thriving in a world where our work will change in ways we can scarcely imagine.

For example, Google is intent on acquiring leading edge technology SMEs that are pioneers in advanced robotics and/or exploring concepts like machine learning and systems neuroscience. Google hit the headlines earlier this year when they bought UK start up DeepMind whose expertise is general purpose learning algorithms. Whilst this intellectual property can undoubtedly improve Google’s search capability, the longer term impact it could have is massive, prompting prominent observers to warn (again) of job destruction at a faster rate than new jobs can be generated with mass middle class unemployment leading to social unrest! ie a White Collar Revolution! 

Other commentators are predicting that future economic strength will depend on creating jobs that go way beyond logic and require a significant element of human ingenuity and creativity; and are worth the high wages that we require to support our accustomed living standards! 

If you weren’t already convinced, these trends up the ante on you, not your employer, taking on responsibility for your personal development. In these revolutionary days it’s a survival imperative!

Excellence is NOT and institutional choice. Excellence is a PERSONAL choice.

Watch out for more on this topic here, and sign up for a webinar on Friday 23rd April at 9am EST.



New Work Survival Kit 2012+++++

July 4, 2013

Here’s a personal improvement checklist – choose at least one area for your own improvement efforts – preferably one that makes you ‘wince’ about your current performance!

  1. Mastery! (Best/Absurdly Good at Something!)
  2. “Manage” to Legacy (All Work = “Memorable”/“Braggable” WOW Projects!)
  3. “USP”/Unique Selling Proposition (R.POV8: Remarkable Point of View … captured in 8 or less words)
  4. Networking Obsession (From vertical/hierarchy/“suck up” loyalty to horizontal/“colleague”/“mate” loyalty)
  5. Entrepreneurial Instinct (A sleepless … Eye for Opportunity! E.g.: Small Opportunity for Independent Action beats faceless part of Monster Project)
  6. CEO/Leader/Businessperson/Closer (CEO, Me Inc. Period! 24/7!)
  7. Mistress of Improv (Play a dozen parts simultaneously, from Chief Strategist to Chief Toilet Scrubber)
  8. Sense of Humor (A willingness to Screw Up, Shrug & Move On)
  9. Comfortable with Your Skin (Bring “interesting you” to work!)
  10. Intense Appetite for Technology (E.g.: Are you a “leading edgeuser” of Social Media?)
  11. Embrace “Marketing” (Your own CSO/Chief Storytelling Officer)
  12. Obsessed with Renewal (Your own CLO/Chief Learning Officer)
  13. Execution Excellence! (Show up early! Leave late! Sweat the details!)
  14. EXCELLENCE. PERIOD. (What else?)

Join the Tom Peters Excellence Academy for support and encouragement in your improvement efforts.

Some Guidelines

June 30, 2013

We are trying out a different methodology for the second pilot of the Excellence Academy which will take place on the Facebook group site starting on 1st July.

The thinking is that we want to help you to identify ways in which you can improve the way you work, but we are under no illusions that it is you that has to decide what  you want to change.

We are looking at the subject of Professional Excellence and each weekday we will post a fresh TP quote on the Facebook group. After the quote there will be a question, comment or perhaps a call to action. If you think the topic is an important one, and one that you ought to do more of than you do, please join in with the discussion.

You may feel qualified to give others advice, or point them to resources that can inform their actions. Or maybe you disagree – please give us your opinions!

At the end of the week, we’ll have a windup activity that is designed to get you to think over the week’s discussion and decide on some action areas for yourself.

Once you’ve had the chance to use any new ideas, we’d love to hear how you get on – keep us posted!

Excellence Academy 2: Coming Soon!

February 14, 2013

In Tom Peters we have a master of modern management theory who shares his insights freely in a variety of formats (Books, ebooks, speeches, papers, twitter, blog, website etc). His ideas have high currency, particularly amongst entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and new startups. The list of his literary achievements is long but equally interesting is the impact he has had on how business is done. Over the years we have come across many people who attest to having changed the way they work by Tom’s persuasive and emotional arguments. Many of them speak of life changing transformations.

In TPC, we work with clients who want to adopt these ideas and to inspire others to do the same. Our focus is almost totally on application;-) We find that the problem clients are dealing with is rarely that people lack knowledge – it’s  converting knowledge into practice that is usually the difficult part.

The things people tell us they appreciate from our interventions include;

  • Getting feedback about current performance
  • The chance to debate the relevance of the ideas to them
  • Reshaping ideas to deal with their own problems
  • Tools that help them come up with new solutions for their situation
  • Having a go at a new skill or behaviour
  • Getting moral support from fellow students
  • Having fun

We’ve been doing this in face-to-face settings for over 25 years, and the Excellence Academy moves this field of activity into virtual space. This gives us the chance to reach a much wider audience and to stay connected as virtual buddies to provoke and support over a longer period of time.

There is a groundswell of thinking about teaching and learning going on at the moment. Russell Ackoff and Daniel Greenburg (Turning Learning the Right Side Up, Roger Schank (Teaching Minds, 2011), 2008) and Zoe Elder (Full On Learning, 2012), all in their own ways advocate approaches to learning that centre on practice not teaching. The age of the internet means that there is no reason for a person to be ignorant about any subject that interests them. Education should focus on helping learners to use this information thoughtfully to achieve goals that matter to them.

To make sure we aren’t just another source of content, our focus in the Excellence Academy will be:

  1. Challenging peoples’ preconceived beliefs and norms
  2. Defining fresh challenges for themselves
  3. Shaping work projects to drive activity from which they can learn
  4. Provoking, reminding and inspiring them to act and to continue acting
  5. Reflecting on what they have learned
  6. Feeling part of a community of learners
  7. Helping people feel intrinsic reward for their efforts

The Academy will have its own web platform, and the program of activities will spread over 6 months. Its focus will be on supporting people to learn about improving performance in chosen aspects of their work life with the inspiration of Tom Peters to guide us. For more information contact

Excellence Academy 1

January 9, 2013

In 2013 TPC will be launching a Distance Learning Programme designed to help people focus on Excellence in their own situation. Here is an outline of our latest thinking. All input and reactions welcome!

Target Audience:

Small/medium sized business leaders, unit/team leaders and individual professionals. People who are looking for stimulation and support to develop and improve themselves and their teams, and have a more positive impact.


The Excellence Academy is a place to focus on aspects of your business that can benefit from change.

We will explore, discuss, and try out (new) approaches to increase the distinction and merit of your (and your team’s) work.

This involves improving self-awareness, and opening your mind up to alternative ways of working.

Programme Structure:

“You can’t just do what you know you should do. Why not? Because your subconscious (that is in charge of your daily activities) isn’t listening to what you have to say” Roger Schank, Teaching Minds, (2011)

To address this learning challenge, the Excellence Academy programme will be like a slow burning carbohydrate diet – ie it contains a sustained, steady delivery of energy. It will emphasize trying things out, practicing and learning from experience and will keep theoretical discussions to the minimum.

There will be a series of asynchronous modules, the first of which enables everyone to set their own excellence agenda for the next 180 days.

Subsequent modules (4?) will deal with a series of topics, expressed as problem or challenge statements, such as:

  • “the way ahead for me/us is far from clear”
  • “we/I need more intrapreneurship”
  • “our bureaucracy is strangling us”
  • “our workforce is too one-dimensional in its behaviour”
  • “we/I don’t have enough commitment from our employees/suppliers/partners”

We’ll choose a commonly accepted issue for the second module and finalise the remaining modules with input from participants. These will be chosen to make up a balanced Excellence agenda.

A final module will sum up the progress made and invite all participant to submit/present their work to others.

Module Structure:

The following broad structure will be used for each module which will run over a month:

  • Explore your current understanding of this topic (ie diagnose the ‘problem’ and its cause)
  • Consider alternative approaches/case studies/examples (ie. challenge people to look afresh at the subject and evaluate the comparative benefits of alternative approaches)
  • Take part in an activity that develops your understanding (ie explore alternative approaches in a safe environment and work in a team to achieve a result)
  • Decide on ways to incorporate new ways of working into your life (ie experiment with actions and that are different to your normal actions and use your influence to persuade others to co-operate)
  • Review and learn from experience of applying the new ideas (ie evaluate and judge your experience)
  • Record progress in your Portfolio (ie describe your new understanding/belief)

Teaching methods include:

  • Stories
  • Case Studies
  • Simulations
  • Games
  • Practice
  • Do and copy
  • Work in a team
  • Learn from mistakes (Do, try, fail, review, re-do)

Throughout the programme, everyone will build their own Excellence portfolio, which they use to record their actions, learning and developing awareness of the specific concept being studied. Portfolios are presented for any participant to read and comment on and everyone will be encouraged to do so.

Portfolio assessment by TPC can be offered as an optional (paid-for?) extra.

A Twitter Hashtag and facebook page will provide online commentary for participants.

Web Platform:

  • Regular (daily?) inspirational/reminder quotes will be sent
  • Course materials – video, audio, book references, white papers, articles, url links assessments, tools, provided
  • Course activities/discussions via online discussion board
  • Journal webspace to keep individual portfolio records
  • Occasional live discussions/webinars provided as required/desired


An initial charge of £250 followed by a monthly charge (£100pm) for access to Excellence Academy (Total £750).

Future Shape of Education?

October 8, 2012

From the earliest days of the Web, it was obvious to many of us that the impact of the internet on education was going to be huge. An early inkling of the tectonic shift that was underway was the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Open Course Ware project ( Initiated in 1999, the project provided materials for its first set of undergraduate courses free on the Web in 2002. By November 2011, there were 2,080 MIT undergraduate and graduate level courses available online.

MIT’s groundbreaking initiative has been followed up by many other academic institutions, and the body of work that has been created is a valuable resource for people all over the world.

This open sharing of intellectual property has moved up to a completely different level with the advent of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Pioneered in 2007 by David Wiley of Utah State University, MOOCs reached a turning point in 2011 when a course on artificial intelligence enrolled a staggering 160,000 participants!

MOOCs are now available on a wide variety of subjects and typically run for about eight weeks. MOOCs are (so far) free of charge, and access is unrestricted. MOOCS exploit the latest Web technology and accommodate a wide variety of educational content, delivery media, and learning support mechanisms. New organizations such as Udacity, and Coursera have sprung up alongside Carnegie Mellon’s OLI, Harvard’s edX project and MIT’s OCW to help fulfill the burgeoning worldwide demand for online education.

I recently enrolled in a MOOC delivered by Professor Kevin Werbach of Pennsylvania University. The subject is Gamification—defined as the use of games design techniques and games elements in non-games contexts. The professor is using feedback from the participants in a book he is writing on Gamification. So, he benefits from the interactive nature of the Web experience along with his students, and he is no doubt picking up plenty of feedback from the 10,000 participants who are still active out of the 77,000 who originally signed up for the course. This 10,000 out of 77,000 might seem disappointing, but program monitoring shows that around 44,000 people are accessing the two hours per week of video content but not submitting the course work.

I’m finding the MOOC learning process much more engaging than I had expected. There is sufficient assessment, albeit of a fairly mechanical level, to help me consolidate my learning. I feel that I’ve picked up something useful that I can apply in my work. I haven’t ventured far into the community forum of the course, as hacking my way through thousands of posted comments doesn’t feel like a productive use of my time. Maybe next time.

Critics of MOOCs are dismissive about the educational value added. They point out that there’s no credible qualification issued at the end of a MOOC. A “certificate of attendance” issued to participants who complete the course may not hold any weight in getting a job or earning credit toward more formal education. Critics say such mass access education is never going to provide the quality or intensity of focus that can be gained in a tailored academic course. Perfectly valid criticisms, perhaps, but personally I think they miss the main point.

These early manifestations of open courses are an indication of a shift in the balance of power away from educators being in control to learners taking control of their own personal development. I see these open courses a bit like a smorgasbord of educational offerings. They offer a whole new menu of exciting courses for students who want the scope to pick and choose what they spend their time learning. Life-long learning becomes a viable option for people with the resolve to do the work and access to a decent broadband service!

What will happen if providers start to charge for course admission remains to be seen, but for the moment, as an ongoing experiment in educational flash mobbing, it makes for fascinating watching.

Here are a few MOOC courses to take a look at….

Coursera: Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies

Udacity:How to build a blog

Open Learning Initiative:Introduction to Psychology

Blog post first published on

What did you do in the Great Recession, Mummy/Daddy?

October 5, 2012

Everyone agrees that it will be innovators, entrepreneurs and people who don’t follow the crowd that will play a key role in getting the world back onto an even keel after this greatest of recessions. Folks who follow Tom Peters and TPC tend to be a feisty lot, who aren’t easily daunted by adversity, and we’d expect them to be at the forefront of the global recovery.

Are you one of these trail blazers? Are you doing your bit to cope with or even thrive in these times of austerity? We’re looking for inspiring stories of the way people are finding innovative ways to do business in a period of almost permanent recession. How do you keep yourself and others motivated and focused?

We want to start a collection of examples of how people like you are creating the future shape of work . Send us your story and we’ll publish our favourites on this blog. Here are a couple of examples to get you started:

Sam Mogannam of Bite Rite Markets whose quirky approach gets sales per square foot that are as good as an Apple store.

Jeff Charney, on how to keep a work culture fresh.

We’d love to hear from you.

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