June 8, 2018

Why it is still worth you being provoked, by Re-Imagine

By Tony Boobier

Continuing our monthly theme, of book recommendations, here’s a short review to tempt you to Re-Imagine.

Having mentioned, to our regular guest bloggers, that I was focussing on books this month – Tony Boobier suggested this one. Having heard Tom Peters live a couple of times, I can attest to him having a Marmite style. He certainly has shaken up some stuffy corporate group-think, and rightly challenged some urban myths.

I’ve previously shared a much older business classic, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“. Leaders do well to consider past books, not just those that are currently trending.

So, I’m pleased to share this short book review from Tony. Here is why Tom Peters still has something to say, to leaders today, and why you can still Re-Imagine…

Re-Imagine: disruption is older than you think

One of my favourite books is “Re-Imagine” by Tom Peters. Initially published in 2003, its cover calls for ‘Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age’. This, somewhat reassuringly, reminds us that business disruption isn’t a modern phenomenon.

Tom Peters is no stranger to writing business books. “In Search of Excellence“, and “Thriving on Chaos” to mention but a couple, of his landmark business publications. But both of these are now over 30 years old. They were conceived in a different ‘pre-Big Data’ era, and because of this some might argue that they’re out of date. A bit like the handbook of an old Ford Capri.

But Re-Imagine is, for me, different. Even, with its 15th birthday upon us. It’s a Marmite sort of book, you either love it or hate it. The style is gregarious, the text is continually provocative. The multi-coloured format, leaps out from the page, to threaten the visual senses. Its layout allows the reader to dip in and dip out, always taking away from those short visits, a sense of the need for change.

Re-imagine: Listen out for the next leader to say they are doing it

I think it’s been quite a pervasive book. A wry smile never fails to appear on my face, when modern senior executives announce that they are, ‘Re-imaging’ their business. Like it’s something new.

But it’s SO LOUD ! Some critics have called it an affront to the senses. Considered it an insult to the art of proof-reading and copy-editing. Is it the literary equivalent a drunk, in a midnight choir, who stands out in a bad, uncomfortable way? Or a punk rock equivalent, to management consultancy, with a cool bit of personal self-marketing? Not so much a book, more of a literary performance.

Re-Imaging’ probably isn’t for the purist, who might look in a business textbook, for tables and flowcharts. In fact, it might seem more like a bit of an arrogant outburst. Peters starts each chapter, not only with a short ‘Rant’ (‘We are not prepared’…), but also a short statement of ‘Vision’ (‘I imagine…’ ).

Re-imagine: a two quote taster

It’s difficult to pick out quotes which typify this content. But, here are two, both printed in bold red ink:

  • ‘Getting Things Done’ ultimately is not about ‘power’ or ‘rank’. It is about …PASSION and IMAGINATION and PERSISTENCE’.”
  • Volunteer for Crappy Jobs: crappy jobs that let you take independent charge of things, quickly and early in your tenure.”

Who can fail to like strong opinions, even if you don’t always agree with them? Don’t strong opinions always make you think a little bit harder, about the status quo?

You can buy a used soft-back copy online for £0.01. It could be the best penny you have ever spent.

Re-Imagine 2

Re-imagine: what do you think?

Thanks Tony for that thought-provoking suggestion. Tom Peters certainly does have a very different style to others in the pantheon of Leadership experts. But, I think his voice is worth hearing, if you are also willing to ignore what does not work for you.

Given the Marmite nature of Tom, both in person & in written form, it would be interesting to hear the views of our readers. Have you read Re-Imagine? What do you think? Did it assault your senses or help you genuinely reimagine your business or role? Perhaps both?

Please share your feedback, either in comment boxes below or on social media. I look forward to the debate.