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Quotes on PROBLEM SOLVING
"The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year."
— John Foster Dulles
Former Secretary of State
"In times like these it is good to remember that there have always been times like these."
— Paul Harvey
"The majority see the obstacles; the few see the objectives; history records the successes of the latter, while oblivion is the reward of the former."
— Alfred Armand Montapert
"One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment . . . ; If it doesn't turn out right, we can modify it as we go along."
— Franklin D.Roosevelt
counseling Frances Perkins
"Leaders are problem solvers by talent and temperament, and by choice. For them, the new information environment—undermining old means of control, opening up old closets of secrecy, reducing the relevance of ownership, early arrival, and location—should seem less a litany of problems than an agenda for action. Reaching for a way to describe the entrepreneurial energy of his fabled editor Harold Ross, James Thurber said: 'He was always leaning forward, pushing something invisible ahead of him.' That's the appropriate posture for a knowledge executive."
— Harlan Cleveland
"I would rather be surrounded by smart people than have a huge budget. Smart people will get you there faster."
— former McKinsey associate
as quoted in The McKinsey Way by Ethan Rasiel
"Never try to solve all the problems at once — make them line up for you one-by-one.
— Richard Sloma
"Whatever failures I have known, whatever errors I have committed, whatver follies I have witnessed in public and private life, have been the consequences of action without thought."
— Bernard Baruch
"Somewhere deep down we know that in the final analysis, we do decide things and that even our decisions to let someone else decide are really our decisions, however pusillanimous."
— Harvey G. Cox
"Erroneous assumptions can be disastrous."
— Peter Drucker
"Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well-informed just to be undecided about them."
— Laurence J. Peter
"Again and again, the impossible decision is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made."
— Dr. Robert Schuller
"Life is a crisis - so what!"
— Malcolm Bradbury
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
— Viktor Frankl
Man's Search for Meaning
"You don't drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there."
— Edwin Louis Cole
"Problems are only opportunities in work clothes."
"Do it, fix it, try it," is our favorite axiom. Karl Weick adds that "chaotic" action is preferable to orderly inaction." . . . ; The most important and visible outcropping of the action bias in the excellent companies is their willingness to try things out, to experiment."
— Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr.
"Uncertainty can lead to paralysis. And if you become indecisive you're dead.."
— Jim Citrin
Zoom: How 12 Exceptional Companies are Navigating the Road to the Next Economy
"I never decide whether it's time to retire during training camp."
— Bob Christian
"[How to think about a problem:] The first step is to make the problem specific . . . ; The second step is to form theories freely of how to rid yourself of that burden . . . ; The third step is to develop in foresight the consequences of your proposals . . . ; The fourth and final step in thinking is to compare the consequences of your proposals to see which is best in the light of your scheme of life as a whole . . . ; Whether you choose a vacation or a spouse, a party or a candidate, a cause to contribute to or a creed to live by - think!
— Brand Blanchard, American philosopher
"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
— Albert Einstein
"It is not stress that kills us. It is effective adaptation to stress that allows us to live."
— George Vaillant
"Difficulties are opportunities to better things; they are stepping-stones to greater experience.... When one door closes, another always opens; as a natural law it has to, to balance."
— Brian Adams
"The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions."
— Peter Drucker
Men, Ideas & Politics
"Unlike top management at Enron, exemplary leaders reward dissent. They encourage it. They understand that, whatever momentary discomfort they experience as a result of being told they might be wrong, it is more than offset by the fact that the information will help them make better decisions."
— Warren Bennis
New York Times, 2/17/02
"Is your cucumber bitter? Throw it away. Are there briars in your path? Turn aside. That is enough. Do not go on and ay, 'Why were things of this sort ever brought into the world?'"
— Marcus Aurelius
"I think one difficulty is that the problem is one of such enormous complexity that the very mass of facts presented to the public by press and radio make it exceedingly difficult for the man in the street to reach a clear appraisement of the situation. It is virtually impossible at this distance to grasp at all the real significance of the situation.'"
— George Marshall
"Stop looking for solutions to problems and start looking for the right path."
— Andy Stanley
"Simple is harder than complex. Simple brings accountability. Leaders deal with complex, but it’s not what they peddle."
— Michael McKinney
"Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions."
— Edward R. Murrow
"The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem."
— Theodore Rubin
"Until we have real conflict, we don’t fully understand the problem."
— Alfred Sloan
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
— Albert Einstein