Robert H. Waterman

American writer

Robert H. Waterman, Jr. (born ca. 1942) is an American management consultant, a non-fiction author, and expert on business management practices, who worked for McKinsey & Company. He is best known as best-known co-author of In Search of Excellence (1982) written with Tom Peters.


  • Any form of organization that cuts across normal bureaucratic lines to capture opportunities, solve problems, and get results. In an era of accelerating change, organizations, and national economies, most likely to succeed are those with the ability to adjust and adapt. Robert H. Waterman Jr., ... shows how and what this sort of innovation must become a way of life for business organizations across the board. What is needed is an environment that fosters the use of an ad-hoc problem-solving technique, in effect an -adhocracy- that functions outside the often initiative-stifling bureaucracy-
    • Robert H. Waterman (1993), Adhocracy: The Power to Change. W.W. Norton ; Book summary
  • True or false? "America is falling behind in world competition". The surprise answer is "false". Recent research on industrialized nations shows that American workers outproduce workers in Germany and France by 20 percent, workers in Britain by over 30 percent, and Japanese workers by over 60 percent. The reason has nothing to do with technology, worker attitude, or worker skill... [Looking] at some of the best American firms... [we can concluded] that the key to strategic advantage is organization: they are organized to focus on the things that motivate their own people, and organized to anticipate customer needs.
    • Robert H. Waterman (1994). What America Does Right: Learning from Companies that Put People First. W.W. Norton; Book summary .

In Search of Excellence (1982)


Tom Peters & Robert H. Waterman, Jr. (1982) In Search of Excellence.

See Tom Peters#In Search of Excellence (1982)

The Renewal Factor, 1987


Robert H. Waterman, JR. The Renewal Factor - How the Best Get and Keep the Competitive Edge. Bantam Books, New York, New York, 1987.

  • In today's business environment, more than in any preceding era, the only constant is change. Somehow there are organizations that effectively manage change, continuously adapting their bureaucracies, strategies, systems, products, and cultures to survive the shocks and prosper from the forces that decimate their competition. They move from strength to strength, adjusting to crises that bedevil others in their industry. They are masters of Renewal. No organization can maintain excellence without renewing. No organization can strive for excellence, or even attempt to improve, without the ability to renew.
    • p. xv
  • The renewing companies treat everyone as a source of creative input. What's most interesting is that they cannot be described as either democratically or autocratically managed. Their managers define the boundaries, and their people figure out the best way to do the job within those boundaries. They give up a measure of control in order to gain control over what counts - results
    • p. 7
  • Visible management attention, rather than management exhortation, gets things done. Action may start with the words, but it has to be backed by symbolic behavior that makes those words come alive.
    • p. 11
  • Man is a maker of meanings in a world that sometimes seems without meaning. Few things help us find meaning more than a cause to believe in, better yet, about which to get excited. Renewing organizations seem to run on causes.
    • p. 12
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