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Some useful quotations

Here are quotations which were left off the reorganised site:

What distinguishes exemplary boards isn’t just following key structural tactics, but rather creating robust, effective social systems. The key to generating such a team includes creating a climate of trust and candor, fostering a culture of open dissent, utilizing a fluid portfolio of roles, ensuring individual accountability, and evaluating the board’s performance… It’s not rules and regulations. It’s the way people work together.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld 2002


Most leaders love to make strategy, but it is vision and values that spawn strategic action

Robert Knowling 2000


Good governance calls for the board’s role in long-range planning to consist chiefly in establishing the reason for planning [that] planning is done to increase the probability of getting somewhere from here [and recognise that] enunciation of that “somewhere” is the board’s highest contribution. In a manner of speaking, boards participate most effectively in the planning process by standing just outside it… a model of governance is a framework within which to organize the thoughts, activities, structure, and relationships of governing boards.

John Carver 1990


Power centres around scarce and critical resources and in times of uncertainty those with established credibility tend to be favoured as the enlightened. Those in power tend to define problems in ways which institutionalise their power. The more institutionalised the power is the more likely it is that the organization will be out of phase with its environment.

Gerald R. Salancik and Jeffrey Pfeffer 1977


The effectiveness of the true leader should be assessed, not in terms of the leadership they exercise, but in terms of the leadership they evoke … in terms of growth in competence, sense of responsibility, and in personal satisfactions among many participants. Under this kind of leadership it may not always be clear at any given moment just who is leading. Nor is this important. What is important is that others are learning to lead well.

Bob Galvin 1996


Conversations lie at the heart of managerial work. Managers talk. It is through talk that they teach and inspire, motivate and provide feedback, plan and take decisions… develop new ideas, share knowledge and experience, and enhance individual and collective learning… Yet, in most companies, very little attention is paid to the quality of conversations.

Lynda Gratton and Sumantra Ghoshal 2002


The majority of leadership skills are learned from naturally occurring experiences in the work place… more active and versatile learners subsequently consider themselves more frequently involved and engaged in leadership behaviors.


Lillas M. Brown & Barry Z. Posner 2001


A disturbing trend is going on in corporate America – CEO churning. Top executives are rapidly coming and going, keeping their jobs for increasingly shorter periods of time. The reason? Most boards are so unclear about the definition of leadership, they are picking the wrong people.

Warren Bennis & James O’Toole 2000


In planning major initiatives, executives often exaggerate the benefits and discount the costs, setting themselves up for failure. A high number of business failures are the consequence of flawed decision making. When forecasting the outcomes of risky projects, executives fall victim to the planning fallacy. Managers make decisions based on delusional optimism rather than on a rational weighting of gains, losses and probabilities. They overestimate benefits and underestimate costs.

Dan Lavallo & Daniel Kahneman 2003

We trained hard … but every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising … and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing inefficiency and demoralisation.

Petronius, in AD 66

Often, when an organization suffers a terrible failure, others attempt to learn from the experience. Trying to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past seems like an admirable goal. Naturally, some observers attribute the poor performance of others to human error of one kind or another. They blame the firm’s leaders for making critical mistakes, at times even going so far as to accuse them of ignorance, negligence, or indifference. Attributing failures to the flawed decisions of others has certain benefits for outside observers. In particular, it can become a convenient argument for those who have a desire to embark on a similar endeavor.

Michael Roberto 2002

One of the most reliable indicators and predictors of true leadership is an individual’s ability to find meaning in negative situations and to learn from even the most trying circumstances.


Warren Bennis 2002

Money is not at the beginning of the artistic assembly line…. It is at the end. It is the applause, not the hushed anticipation. And in our buy now, pay later, money back guarantee society, applause comes only from those who have seen, and touched and tasted. Who have been touched and had themselves transported. From those who know what it is to have an artist capture their imagination like a balloon, hold it for a moment, and then set it free again, refreshed.”

Charles Ziff 1982

While culture enables sustained collective action by providing people with a similarity of approach, outlook, and priorities, these same shared values norms, and assumptions can also be a source of danger if they blind the collective to vital issues or factors important to performance that lie outside the bounds of organizational perception. Cultural blind spots can lead an organization down the wrong path, sometimes with dire performance consequences.

Karl E Weick & Kathleen M. Sutcliffe 2003


Recent education theory acknowledges, even promotes, the object-based, experiential, thought-provoking, and problem-solving type of learning in which museums excel. The overriding conclusion is that museums offer visitors profound, long-lasting, and even life-changing experiences

George E. Hein, and MaryAlexander, 1998

In the global information age museums still have a vital role to play: ensuring that understanding remains the main attraction.

The Guardian June 7 2003

It doesn’t really matter if you implement ERP software or a CRM system; it matters very much, though, that whatever technology you choose to implement you execute it flawlessly. Similarly, it matters little whether you centralize or decentralize your business as long as you pay attention to simplifying the way your organization is structured.

Nitin Nohria, William Joyce & Bruce Roberson 2003


Certainty is socially constructed rather than discovered truth.

Peter Simpson & Hugh Burnard 2000

It is more effective for an organization to focus on outcome based goals – which describe the results [in terms of how those who are expected to benefit see them] of succeeding in the chosen strategies – than on the annual planning and budgeting cycle.

Douglas K. Smith 2000

When project developments, environmental assessments, or other activities affect indigenous peoples, the first step must be to bridge the gap between the indigenous and western knowledge forms and culture.

Alan Emery

Measuring or assessing a museum’s merits must focus on how to develop the critical values which distinguish museums from other public institutions and which are the basis of the very way in which they contribute to the community and to society, even to the uplifting of the human spirit.

Des Griffin & Morrie Abraham, 1999

Organizational success comes more from managing people effectively than from attaining large size, operating in a high-growth industry, or becoming lean and mean through downsizing — which, after all, puts many of your most important assets on the street for the competition to employ.

Jeffrey Pfeffer 1996

Normative explorations focusing only on financial performance can lead to misleading conclusions about organizational effectiveness.

William Q Judge, Jr, 1994

But after all, it is the blunt truth that we want. The final contentment of our aims requires something more than vulgar substitutes, or subtle evasions, however delicate. The indirections of truth can never satisfy us. Our purposes seek their main justification in sheer matter-of-fact. All the rest is addition, however important, to this foundation.

Alfred North Whitehead, 1933

Every science is subject to the ever-present danger of turning into mindless, automatic science — compute a t-statistic and chi-square statistic, and then you’re done … What you have to fight for continually is that at least some people spend some of their time thinking.

Herbert Simon, 1990

People are people wherever they live; they care deeply about the same few things. In the workplace, people everywhere ask, Am I fairly compensated for my work? Am I well suited for my work? Does my employer trust me to do that work?… The cost of being an ethical company is cheap compared to the cost of replacing workers who leave because of dissatisfaction relating to unethical practices.

Walker Information Global Network 2001