Actionable nuggets of wisdom

Wisdom is useful in so far as it is actionable, AND that you action it.

Measurement and Improvement

What gets measured gets improved.

That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.
Karl Pearson, mathematician and statistician

Risk and Uncertainty

Risk and uncertainty are not the same thing.

If you don’t know for sure what will happen, but you know the odds, that’s risk… if you don’t even know the odds, that’s uncertainty

Frank Knight, economist

Learning and Innovation

Learning and innovation go hand in hand.

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”

William Pollard, physicist

Repeating the past

It’s one thing to not remember, it’s quite another to ignore, willfully or otherwise.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

George Santayana

For the want of a nail

Details always matter, the question is to what degree and what will be the cascade effects?

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Wikipedia 2018, there are various versions of this proverb.

The enemy of knowledge

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

“The great obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the ocean was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. Imagination drew in bold strokes, instantly serving hopes and fears, while knowledge advanced by slow increments and contradictory witnesses.”

Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself, P86.

Ignorance vs. Knowledge

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”
Charles Darwin, thanks to Thinkexist.com


Barriers to people changing.

“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain of success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.”
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) (Wit & Meyer, 2004, p. 73).

The last freedom

You choose your attitude.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Viktor E. Frankl (1992). Man’s search for meaning; an introduction to logotherapy. Boston,: Beacon Press, p.75

Watch your thoughts

Your thoughts can become your destiny.

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Source uncertain.

Learning is optional

Experience is inevitable, learning is not.

Ignorance in action

Nothing is as frightening as ignorance in action.


The self-righteous.

Many complain about their memory, few about their judgement.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Complete knowledge

If only we could.

Tout comprendre rend très-indulgent. (translation – To know all is to forgive all.)
Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein

Our world

It’s the only one we’ve got. We should be in awe of and appreciate the improbability of our existence.

To see the world in a grain of sand,
and to see heaven in a wild flower,
hold infinity in the palm of your hands,
and eternity in an hour.
more …
William Blake 

A good plan

Don’t procrastinate, just do it.

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.
George S. Patton

Ignorance and complexity


Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.
Albert Einstein

Deliberate ignorance

Incentives drive behaviour.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!
Upton Sinclair

The most important task of a leader

Ask the right questions and think things through.

“Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions so that the world doesn’t go to hell if you take a day off.”
Jeffrey Pfeffer

Education of the individual

Battery-farm education or mass customisation?

Instead of a national curriculum for education, what is really needed is an individual curriculum for every child.
Charles Handy

… and with current technology we could achieve this.


Complexity and obfuscation as tactics?

Do not be alarmed by simplification, complexity is often a device for claiming sophistication, or for evading simple truths.
John Kenneth Galbraith

Value to others

Be of value to others.

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.
Albert Einstein

You can know

False knowledge.

You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird… So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.
Richard FeynmanUS educator & physicist (1918 – 1988)

Knowledge that ain’t so

False facts.

The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that ain’t so.
Mark Twain

Business and other models

Models are helpful in understanding the world, but they all have their limits.

All models are wrong, but some are useful.
George E. P. Box


What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
Christopher Hitchens

True Joy

Self absorption can be a little tiresome.

“The true joy in life is to be a force of fortune instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
George Bernard Shaw

Focus on the Job To Be Done, NOT the customer

It really helps to focus on the right thing, and that’s not the customer, and it certainly isn’t simply what you think people should buy.

The customer is the wrong unit of analysis when you’re trying to innovate. Rather than focusing on the customer, you need to understand what it is that the customer is trying to accomplish. What’s the job that the customer is trying to get done? Jobs are stable. Jobs exist whether or not there’s a market for a product that could be hired to do the job, e.g., people have always wanted to get stuff from one place to another.
Clayton Christensen, Youtube.com

Build it and they will buy

Building anything, simply because you think people will buy is not a sound business strategy.

“Build it and they will buy is not a strategy, it is a prayer,” “you cannot create a market or customer demand where there isn’t customer interest.”
Steve Blank, The Four Steps to the Epiphany.

Dare to fail

Failure is a possibility, not an inevitability, and it’s certainly not a goal.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though chequered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States.

Who are we?

We have some influence over who we become.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Opportunities are never lost

The opportunities that we miss will likely be caught by others.

Opportunities are never lost; someone else will take the ones you miss.

Inconvenient Facts

Facts can be quite inconvenient, but they don’t simply go away if you ignore them.

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Aldous Huxley


Facts do not cease to exist or have their impacts, because they are inconvenient and you have dutifully ignored them.

Management Issues

Are your management issues really unique?

Most management issues are “repititions of familiar problems cloaked in the guise of uniqueness.”
Peter Drucker

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