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1. A business set up just to make money is rarely efficient, because it is not often intended to create wealth; it is only expected to make a fortune for certain people who occupy executive positions.

Sarah Tarleton Colvin (b.1865) U.S. nurse, campaigner for women’s suffrage, and educator. A Rebel in Thought (1944)


2. I make no secret of the fact that I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it. But you have to be efficient if you’re going to be lazy.

Shirley Conran (b.1932) British designer, fashion editor, and author. “The Reason Why,” Superwoman (1975)


3. If the Wright brothers were alive today, Wilbur would have to fire Orvill to reduce costs.

Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929) U.S. sociologist. Quoted in USA Today (June 1994)


4. In an organization, doing is causing people to have a productivity that makes everything happen on time and profitably.

Philip B. Crosby (1926-2001) U.S. business executive and author. Running Things (1986)


5. I believe there’s an inverse correlation between the quality of the information you have and the amount of inventory you need. Most businesses tie up a tremendous amount of assets anticipating things that may not happen. If they had a system that was customer demand driven, they would be much more efficient.

Michael Dell (b.1965) U.S. chairman and C.E.O. of Dell Computer Corporation. Speech to the Detroit Economic Club. “Building a Competitive Advantage in an Internet Economy” (November 1, 1999)


6. It is possible for a business venture to be an island of efficiency in a sea of sloth.

Indira Gandhi (1917-84) Indian prime minister. Speech (December 9, 1967)


7. It is much more difficult to measure nonperformance than performance.

Harold S. Geneen (1910-97) U.S. telecommunications entrepreneur and C.E.O. of ITT. Referring to why managers sometimes accept underachievement. Managing (co-written with Alvin Moscow; 1984)


8. The worldwide movement towards fiscal rectitude and the creation of an economic environment which is transparent and rewards efficiency is no longer a matter of choice but one of necessity.

Deepak Lal (b.1940) British political economist and author. India in the World Economy (1999)


9. Incompetence knows no barriers of time or place.

Laurence J. Peter (1919-90) Canadian academic and writer. Why Things Go Wrong: The Peter Principle Revisited (1984)


10. The pyramid, the chief organizational principle of the modern organization, turns a business into a traffic jam.

Ricardo Semler (b.1959) Brazilian business executive and president of Semco. Maverick! (1993)


11. When two men always agree, one of them is unnecessary.

William Wrigley (1861-1932) U.S. businessman and founder of Wrigley Company. American Magazine (March 1920)