Summary of The Benchmarking Book

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  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Michael J. Spendolini forgoes the usual generalities of management theory in favor of a how-to practicality. The first edition of his book helped to establish the concept of benchmarking in the mainstream of organizational practice. For those of you who don’t know, benchmarking is a continuous-improvement strategy that seeks to improve products, services or operations by comparing them with the best practices of industry competitors and other companies nationally and worldwide. Spendolini offers a five-step model that can be applied by any company. He also provides a helpful, step-by-step guide to applying the process, though he does get a little repetitive as he describes the model and details each step. But getAbstract nevertheless recommends this book to managers and executives as perhaps the best benchmarking primer on the shelf.

About the Author

Michael J. Spendolini  is founder and principal of MJS Associates, an organizational development and training consulting firm. He held a number of managerial positions at Xerox Corp. and is a recognized expert on TQM and benchmarking.



Benchmarking Origins

In 1982, author Michael Spendolini attended a meeting of Xerox Corp.’s training and organizational-development specialists. They used the term competitive benchmarking in discussing big performance gaps between Xerox and its competitors. As he began to explore the concept, he found two major applications for it. Your company can use benchmarking to understand your competitors and any other organization by isolating and analyzing common functions - such as manufacturing, marketing and engineering - and comparing your practices with them. The other application deals with comparing the details of processes used in designing, manufacturing, marketing or service, as opposed to the finished result.

As Xerox further developed the concept of competitive benchmarking, other companies began to use the term. The concept spread throughout the 1980s, spurred by the creation of the U.S. National Quality Award in 1987 and by the 1989 publication of Xerox veteran Robert Camp’s book, Benchmarking: The Search for Industry Best Practices that Lead to Superior Performance. Eventually, he drew upon the experiences of 24 companies to develop his generic model.

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