The Tom Peters Saga David Wiles, Eaps 760


Whatever else, Tom Peters represents to readers and audiences that have heard him present views of governing and changing complex organizations, he is a historical marker of the revolutionary aspects of the 1980's and 1990's American culture. It is not a revolution of the 1960's "flower" days and it would probably play poorly in the 1770's. What he represents is a "cutting edge" figure of our transforming times and the evolution of his writings may have much to say about the fate of many who try to bridge the conventional meanings of organization and managment of the past into the present.

What happens when the "retrospective futures" of relying on the past to predict the future are replaced by the "shock of the ever new?" What happens when the stability of blending "forward and backward mapping" realities are challenged by a policy world of "nanosecond" changing . Tom Peters is a person who, in 1984, was counselling educators and organizational managers to "pursue excellence" and a decade later (May 1994) argued "...in a world where outrageous is the norm, stable sensible organizations make no sense."

Educators mark the last fifteen years as the time between the beginnings of the "nation at risk" to the reform and accountability of the World Wide Web. Tom Peters would classify the 1980's as the time of counselling "empowerment" and recognizing the deep "devolution" of classic assumptions of bureaucracy and, especially, public sector service delivery. By the mid 1990's, his meanings of organizational revolution and renewal were closer to "don't change it...burn it down." His future was to rise Phoenix-like from the present day ashes...but the counsel for today was to make ashes.
				Nation At Risk 
					1980's


									Nanosecond 
										1990's



More Imagination-----Deconstruction------Revolution------Renewal
             ("empower")     ("devolve")             (don't change it, burn it down")

In the fifteen years that Tom Peters been a popular writer for those concerned with educational administration many phrases and key words have helped shape education policy. I believe most educational managers were most comfortable with the time when his pursuit and passions for excellence were the rationales for changing organizations. Certainly, such advice fit well with the "at risk" reform efforts at achieving "effective school s through "restructuring."

The counsel to "thrive on the chaos" of complex bureaucracies devolving and downsizing in radical transformation was abit harder to take. It may have been helpful as a way of personally coming to grip with tidal waves of changing but it was questionable advice for the "liberation of management." Certainly, the increasing reliance on deliberate destruction of the conventional text format and composition of the management argument was not an adequate replacement for telling a substantive story well . It is little wonder that the logic of "liberation" dissolved further into so many gee whizes and gurgles about "Wow" organizations. It is also little wonder that Tom Peter's liberation was to bid "farewell" as a steady columnist writing about organizations and create a world wide web "corporate" persona.

The Political Evolution of Revolutionary Tom Peters
ExcellenceChaosManagementWoW Orgs.
In Pursuit of
(male)
X
Passion for
(female)
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Thriving on
X
Liberation
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Crazy Times
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Columnist's Web
Farewell ID

The Tom Peters Web ID
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