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Corporate Culture Quotes

  • "Put a bunch of confident, aggressive men in the same room and reward them for taking risks, and you create a pressure cooker, from which probity and prudence evaporate like steam."
    Ian Leslie, British author and broadcaster
    Source: Guardian (London) (June 30, 2012)
  • "I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work."
    Greg Smith (1978–), US businessman, former executive director of Goldman Sachs
    Source: Letter to the New York Times (March 14, 2012)
  • "That is what The Office was partly about: the gap between the managerialist rhetoric of modernisation and change, in which employees had to sit through suffocatingly well-meaning “training days” and identify “strategic goals” in their annual appraisals, and the mundane reality of typing away at a workstation in an anonymous out-of-town office park and then suddenly noticing that ten years have gone by."
    Johann Hari (1979–), British journalist
    Source: Guardian (London) (July 9, 2011)
  • "Just ask yourself: if you were to walk into any corporation, would you find faces brimming over with deep fulfillment and authentic delight—or stonily asking themselves, “If it wasn't for the accursed paycheck, would I really imprison myself in this dungeon of the human soul?”"
    Umair Haque, US economist and author
    Source: Harvard Business Review blog (June 8, 2011)
  • "In one section of the HMRC … workers were prohibited from keeping personal items on their desks. Instead they were given red tape to mark out where they should put their pens and pencils, their computer keyboards and their phones. That is the office as factory."
    Andreas Whittam Smith (1937–), British journalist
    Source: Independent (London) (September 25, 2009)
  • "Too many people are on boards because they want to have nice-looking visiting cards."
    Utz Felcht (1947–), German chairman of Degussa
    Source: Sunday Times (London) (October 2000)
  • "I don't want to feel responsible to outsiders with financial concerns that may differ from those of the welfare of IKEA."
    Ingvar Kamprad (1926–), Swedish business executive and founder of IKEA
    Source: Forbes (August 2000)
  • "Companies … are likely to find hierarchies turned upside down. Juniors teach seniors, subordinates lead teams with their bosses on them … A decision-making hierarchy is replaced by an internal marketplace of ideas."
    Rosabeth Moss Kanter (1943–), US management theorist, academic, and writer
    Source: “How E-Smart Are You?” World Link (January–February 2000)
  • "Never pick up someone else's ringing phone."
    Mark McCormack (19302003), US entrepreneur, founder and CEO of International Management Group
    Source: What You'll Never Learn on the Internet (2000)
  • "Corporate totalitarianism … rules through dispensability rather than exploitation. It treats communities, people, countries, ecosystems, species as disposable and dispensable."
    Vandana Shiva (1952–), Indian philosopher and academic
    Source: Globalisation: Gandhi and Swadeshi (2000)
  • "A company's culture is often buried so deeply inside rituals, assumptions, attitudes, and values that it becomes transparent to an organization's members only when, for some reason, it changes."
    Rob Goffee (1952–), US writer, consultant, and academic
    Source: The Character of a Corporation (cowritten with Gareth Jones, 1998)
  • "The oppressive atmosphere in most companies resembles downtown Calcutta in summer."
    Christopher Bartlett (1945–), Australian business writer
    Source: The Individualised Corporation (cowritten with Sumantra Ghoshal, 1997)
  • "Constructive confrontation."
    Christopher Bartlett (1945–), Australian business writer
    Source: The Individualised Corporation (cowritten with Sumantra Ghoshal, 1997)
  • "I believe in provocative disruption."
    Charlotte Beers (1935–), US advertising executive and former under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs
    Source: Fortune (August 1996)
  • "IBM is like the Stepford Wives. It takes the best people from the best universities and colleges and then snips out some part of the brain so that they become mindless clones."
    Bill Campbell (1940–), US chairman of Intuit
    Source: Quoted in Giant Killers (Geoffrey James, 1996)
  • "The software industry as a whole tends to be slightly managed chaos. It was a giant group grope in the 1970s, when this whole thing started … effectively there are no rules."
    Ann Winblad (1950–), US venture capitalist
    Source: Quoted in Giant Killers (Geoffrey James, 1996)
  • "Every company has its own language, its own version of its own history (its myths), and its own heroes and villains (its legends), both historical and contemporary."
    Michael Hammer (19482008), US author and academic
    Source: Beyond Re-engineering (1996)
  • "This system sounds chaotic, can be frustrating and is, in some ways, uncontrollable. It has destroyed any semblance of corporate security. And … it has worked very well."
    Ricardo Semler (1959–), Brazilian business executive and president of Semco
    Source: “The Mavericks,” Fortune (June 1995)
  • "Any engineer that doesn't need to wash his hands at least three times a day is a failure."
    Shoichiro Toyoda (1925–), Japanese former chairman of Toyota
    Referring to the importance of manufacturing in Japanese industry.
    Source: Quoted in How to Manage (Ray Wild, 1995)
  • "To write down, frame, and publish your corporate values is all about self-deceit and ego. It is almost certainly bullshit."
    Barry J. Gibbons (1946–), US former CEO and chairman of Burger King
    Source: Quoted in How to Manage (Ray Wild, 1995)
  • "There is a misconception that small is always more beautiful than big."
    Lou Gerstner (1942–), US former CEO and chairman of IBM
    Source: Fortune (May 1993)
  • "If you look at the companies where the CEO stayed on till he's 80, those are the people who confuse themselves with the company."
    Walter Wriston (19192005), US banker
    Source: New York Times (April 1993)
  • "The corporation's edict to its members could be phrased as: While you are here, you will act as though you have no other responsibilities, no other life."
    Rosabeth Moss Kanter (1943–), US management theorist, academic, and writer
    Source: When Giants Learn to Dance: Mastering the Challenges of Strategy, Management and Careers in the 1990s (1992), ch. 10
  • "The clichés of a culture sometimes tell the deepest truths."
    Faith Popcorn (1947–), US trend expert and founder of BrainReserve
    Source: The Popcorn Report (1991)
  • "Real commitment is rare in today's organization … 90% of the time what passes for commitment is compliance."
    Peter Senge (1947–), US academic and author
    Source: The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (1990)
  • "If you're not scared, you're too stupid to work here."
    Lee Iacocca (1924–), US former president of Ford Motor Company, and former CEO and chairman of Chrysler
    Source: Speech (1990)
  • "I'm forcing more men into my company to get more sexual tension into the business … I love the buzz and … sexuality of verbal foreplay."
    Dame Anita Roddick (19422007), British entrepreneur and founder of The Body Shop
    Source: Marketing (August 3, 1989)
  • "Nobody here cares which washroom you use."
    Debi Coleman (1953–), US business executive and former CFO of Apple Computer
    Source: US News & World Report (September 1987)
  • "I looked for those sharp, scratchy, harsh, almost unpleasant guys who see and tell you about things as they really are."
    Thomas J. Watson, Jr (19141993), US president of IBM and ambassador to the Soviet Union
    Source: Fortune (August 1987)
  • "I believe in God, family, and McDonald's and, in the office, that order is reversed."
    Ray Kroc (19021984), US founder of McDonald's
    Source: Quoted in McDonald's—Behind the Arches (John F. Love, 1986)
  • "If the washroom isn't good enough for the people in charge, then it's not good enough for the people in the store."
    Marcus, Lord Sieff (19132001), British president of Marks & Spencer
    Source: Quoted in A Passion for Excellence (Tom Peters and Mary Austin, 1985)
  • "A corporation does seem like a family. Not necessarily that one big happy family they like to boast about … but just like every family, a hotbed of passion, rivalry, and dreams that build or destroy careers."
    Paula Bernstein (1933–), US writer
    Source: Family Ties, Corporate Bonds (1985)
  • "The way management treats their associates is exactly how the associates will then treat the customers."
    Sam M. Walton (19181992), US entrepreneur and founder of Wal-Mart
    Source: “The Hot Ticket in Retailing,” New York Times (Isadore Barmash, July 1984)
  • "The soul of a business is a curious alchemy of needs, desires, greed, and gratifications mixed together with selflessness, sacrifices, and personal contributions far beyond material rewards."
    Harold S. Geneen (19101997), US telecommunications entrepreneur and CEO of ITT
    Source: Managing (cowritten with Alvin Moscow, 1984)
  • "Clothes don't make the man—but they go a long way towards making a businessman."
    Thomas J. Watson, Sr (18741956), US founder and president of IBM
    Source: Quoted in IBM: Colossus in Transition (Robert Sobel, 1981)
  • "Modelers build intricate decision trees whose pretension to utility is exceeded only by the awe in which high-level managers hold the technocrats who constrain them."
    Theodore Levitt (19252006), US management theorist, writer, and editor
    Source: “A Heretical View of Management Science,” Fortune (December 1978)
  • "I've often thought that after you get organized, you ought to throw away the organization chart."
    David Packard (19121996), US entrepreneur and cofounder of Hewlett-Packard
    Source: “Lessons of Leadership,” The Nation's Business (January 1974)
  • "A company needs smart young men with the imagination and the guts to turn everything upside down if they can. It also needs old figures to keep them from turning upside down those things that ought to be rightside up."
    Henry Ford II (19191987), US automobile manufacturer and CEO of Ford Motor Company
    Source: Speech (1966)
  • "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
    Upton Sinclair (18781968), US writer and political campaigner
    Source: I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked (1935)
  • "Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you've got."
    Peter F. Drucker (19092005), US management consultant and academic
    Source: Attributed

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