Best of the Worst … Year Ever

Fast Company’s most popular and powerful magazine stories of 2001.


Who’s ready for a fresh start in 2002? Check that — who isn’t? Most people would agree that 2001 left us sad, somber, and more resolute. It also left us even more eager than usual to start the new year right.


But before we welcome 2002, let’s recognize the best of a lousy year — the 20 most popular and powerful Fast Company stories published in 2001. After reflecting on the year gone by, tell us what you’d like to read about in the months ahead in Sound Off below.

Best of the Worst … Year Ever: Top 20 Web Features of 2001

“But Wait, You Promised …”

Every company wants to delight its customers. Don’t you spend most of your day delighted? Charles Fishman

Good to Great

Start with 1,435 good companies. Examine their performance over 40 years. Find the 11 companies that became great. Now, here’s how you can do it too. Jim Collins


Land of the Free

It’s a war out there. The economy is taking a beating. Job security is in retreat. What better time to join the ranks of Free Agent Nation! Here are the seven laws of the land. Follow them to freedom. Daniel H. Pink

Rule #3: Leadership Is Confusing As Hell

You think the past five years were nuts? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! It’s only going to get weirder, tougher, and more turbulent. Which means that leadership will be more important than ever — and more confusing (see rule #3). Tom Peters

The Perfect Vision of Dr. V.

At the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India, 82-year-old Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy has solved the mystery of leadership: He brings eyesight to the blind and light to the soul. Harriet Rubin


Grassroots Leadership: U.S. Military Academy

“You can’t lead without making sacrifices.” — Cadet Randy Hopper, U.S. Military Academy Keith H. Hammonds

Why Can’t Lego Click?

The giant Danish toymaker has a history and a reputation that most companies can only dream of. Yet its efforts to change and grow with the times just won’t click. Charles Fishman
Online Companion Story: Battle Over Blocks

Change Agents: Michael J. Fox and Deborah Brooks

Michael J. Fox isn’t just another movie star promoting a pet cause. He and his colleague Deborah Brooks are reshaping the pace and logic of research devoted to curing Parkinson’s disease. Keith H. Hammonds


Marcus Buckingham Thinks Your Boss Has an Attitude Problem

Marcus Buckingham teaches CEOs how to get the most out of their people and their organizations. His first lesson: Forget everything you think you know about being a leader. Polly LaBarre
Online Companion Story: Do You Know Your Own Strength?

Scient’s Near-Death Experience

The leaders of Scient Corp. built a thriving, fast-growing consulting firm that owed its very life to the Internet economy. Then the dotcoms imploded — and many of Scient’s customers folded. Here’s how the firm is preparing for the next economy. Keith H. Hammonds

Attention, Class!!! 16 Ways to Be a Smarter Teacher

In an economy filled with surprise and uncertainty, being an effective leader means being a good teacher. But how do you lead and teach at the same time? Who are your most important students? And what about recess? Chuck Salter


Michael Porter’s Big Ideas

The world’s most famous business-school professor is fed up with CEOs who claim that the world changes too fast for their companies to have a long-term strategy. If you want to make a difference as a leader, you’ve got to make time for strategy. Keith H. Hammonds

How EDS Got Its Groove Back

Before Dick Brown took the reins at EDS, people wrote the company off as slow, stodgy, even uncool. By focusing on the soft stuff — the company’s culture — he’s turned EDS into the leading example of an old-economy company that gets it. Bill Breen

Tom Peters’s True Confessions

On the 20th anniversary of In Search of Excellence, Peters admits, “I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote Search.Tom Peters


Who Has the Next Big Idea?

Michael Hammer, consultant, author, evangelical business revolutionary, unleashed reengineering on an unsuspecting public in the early 1990s. Now he’s back — with a new book, a new agenda, and a bunch of new ideas. Be afraid. Be redeemed. Or be both. Daniel H. Pink

How to Bounce Back From Setbacks

The road to success is rarely a straight line. Here are three profiles in resilience: people and companies that succeeded by conquering failure. Rekha Balu
Online Companion Story: How to Make Your Company More Resilient

Steve Ballmer’s Big Moves

Microsoft’s CEO faces a challenge that has been the undoing of many leaders in many industries: Can a giant company that dominated one era lead in the next? George Anders


Digital Matters: Issue 47

“Many things matter, and here’s what matters most.” John Ellis

Fast Talk: The State of the Customer Economy

Adopt customer-relationship management. Be customer-centric. Organize around the customer. The customer is king. By now, these customer mantras should sound familiar. But are they the new hype or the new habit? Fast Company
Online Companion Site: Fast Talk Boston

Leader: Feargal Quinn

Ireland’s “Pope of Customer Service” dominates his market — and continues to beat bigger and better-financed rivals — with a leadership philosophy that is at once folksy and radical. Behind all his success is one big question: How do we convince our customers to come back? Polly LaBarre


Best of the Worst … Year Ever: Top 20 Web Features of 2001