Sunday, November 6, 2011

Re-imagine! The Musical

Tom Peters's Re-imagine! (2003) was boundary busting in terms of its design and style. It was a Technicolor Book from a Technicolor Guy.*

These days...

Mr. Peters is Tweeting. About everything management under the sun, of course, including this, a current and concise summary of his Prescription for Success -- which is pretty much what it was when he released his 1982 masterpiece, In Search of Excellence:
Cherish your people, cuddle your customers, wander around, 'try it' beats 'talk about it,' pursue excellence, tell the truth. 
Now, given the fact that Twitter messages can't be more than 140 characters, condensing thirty-plus years' worth of his professional experience had to have been a real challenge. (Kudos for pulling it off.) And the "end product" is clever enough that I can see it finding its way onto a t-shirt or some other promotional object.

What I can't quite see, though, is Technicolor Tom. The exuberant dude who was vowing eight years ago that he'd reinvent the business book, among other things.

Consider this:

If I, or perhaps you, had fired off the same missive, would anybody've paid attention? Would it have been regarded as actionable and /or caused anyone's chin to drop? I don't think so. Which leads me to wonder: Is he bored? Is he losing his eye for color? If "yes" to either, then...

Might he be open to some ideas?

The problem is that the thing doesn't really sing. Keeping in mind that a tweet is a chirping sound, what if he were to start over and to try expressing himself -- if only for the creative exercise of it -- musically this time?

Here are three suggestions in that vein, from the simply whimsical to the outlandish:

[1] Twitter is limiting, but not altogether so. So, suppose he'd add musical notes to his Tweet; one for each of his six pointers (his "Tom Commandments"). It's feasible and could look something like this:

Doesn't that seem a little more Tom-like?

[2] Thinking outside the figurative box, how about actually setting the stuff of that already-sent Tweet to music? In other words: make a tune of it. A ditty. A short song. He could post a recording at And then Tweet about that. (i.e., supply a link) 

Could be fun, huh?
But why stop there?

[3] Why not have some real fun and re-present his full-blown formula as a full-blown musical?!? A production bigger an' more colorful than Re-imagine! itself to capture the author's intensity and high spirits. For this I re-imagine he'd want to collaborate with others who share his same Technicolor sensibilities. (I have just the group for the show's big number: "Ladies and gentlemen, direct from the school of Go Big or Go Home...MarchFourth Marching Band!" To experience the band for yourself, click on the pic below. You'll probably want to turn up the volume, by the way. And hold onto your hat.)

Re-imagine! The Musical


Too far out and over the top? Well, I'm at least half kidding about each of the above. But I throw 'em out there to make a point, one of the same points TP was making implicitly and explicitly when he wrote Re-imagine! That is, business writing is typically dull. It's often pretentious. It's (foolishly? misleadingly?) devoid of imagination, art, and emotion.

About his Tweet in question -- it's not bad. It's just not great. What concerns me is that it does away with almost all of the "cloudlike, nonlinear, hard to see, biased, and impossible to formalize" (thanks David Brooks) stuff that makes Tom Peters Tom Peters. Necessary stuff that helps us to know what he really means, and to decide for ourselves whether or not we like what we're taking in.

I'm reminded of this Wendell Berry nugget: 
The abstract, "objective," impersonal, dispassionate language of science [business]...cannot replace, and it cannot become, the language of familiarity, reverence, and affection by which things of value ultimately are protected. 
How much does Mr. Peters value and wish to protect the same things he did in '03? It's a little hard to tell based on the 127 characters he chose.

*I likened Re-imagine! to a modern day illuminated manuscript in this prior posting: [linked