When “In Search of Excellence” came out in 1982, Americans also thought the world was coming to an end, that American companies could never compete against the Japanese, that the recession wouldn’t end. They needed to be reminded that at least some American companies knew what they were doing. Well, we’re not fighting the Japanese now; we’re fighting energetic, talented shirt makers in Shanghai and information technology designers in Bangalore. We do not have the luxury of just sticking with old, comfortable ways of doing things.
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When I was a boy of 40, I’d make polite suggestions to business people. These days, when I speak, I’m a lot nastier; I’ll look some audience member straight in the eye and ask, “Can you believe how stupid you’ve been?”