Can you share a powerful annecdote or quotation for continuous improvement?

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I am running an event whcih will initiate a continuous improvement forum for a business area. I would like to interject it with powerful quotations on the wall and annecdotes that illustrate the importance of continuous improvement particularly for a business area that is considered to be the benchmark - for the time being anyway.

So can you help?

In anticipation

Mark Outhwaite


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14th Jun 2001 12:50

One that I picked up from a company called Productivity Europe
"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got!"

I'll see what else I can dig up.

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14th Jun 2001 20:15

Dear Mark,

Here's one I like (referring to change, buts its applicable to continuous improvement) attributed to Dan Quayle:

'Its a questions of whether we're going forward into the future - or past into the back'

Take a look at our web site for some others!

Kind regards,

Colin Hamilton
Business Improvement Solutions

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15th Jun 2001 09:33

"Whatever future people can conceive and believe, they can achieve."

"Your past is only useful if it helps you live a beter present."

"If you want to predict the future, first you must create it."

"The biggest risk might be not to take a risk."

"Keeping up is always easier than catching up."

"To get the right answer, it helps to ask the right question."

"When the pace of change outside an organisation becomes greater than the pace of change inside the organisation, the end is near." (John R. Walter)

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

"Most people aim at nothing in life and hit their goal with amazing accuracy."

"A victorious army seeks its victories before seeking battle. An army destined to defeat fights in the hope of winning." (Sun T'su)

"If you do not think about the fuure, you cannot have one." (John Galsworthy)

"If you look back on the past 12 months and can't see failure, you've basically p*ssed away the year." (Tom Peters)

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." (Michaelangelo)

"If you do the job badly enough, sometimes you don't get asked to do it again." (Calvin & Hobbes)

"If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn[***] fool aout it." (Dilbert)

Apologies to those quoted who are, to me anyway, unknown.

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By admin
15th Jun 2001 11:28

"Obstacles are the things you see when you take your eyes off the goal"

"High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation"

Hope these are useful!

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19th Jun 2001 13:01


I've acquired and used these over the years - they are not specific to business but easily fit.
The more I practise and work at my game, the luckier I get (Arnold Palmer)
Man is a prisoner of his own way of thinking and of his own stereotypes of himself (Stafford Beer)
Man's mind - once stretched by a new idea - never regains its original dimensions (Anon.)
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is. (Van de Snepscheut).
I wanted to change the world. But I found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself. (Aldous Huxley)

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19th Jun 2001 15:07

Continuous Improvement difficult for organisations to achieve. Implies steady consistent flow over time (tap flowing at a steady rate at the same pressure over a period of time). We teach in our IRCA Registered QMS courses that organisations should seek Continual Improvements (of products, processes and overall Management Systems) - as addressed per ISO 9000:2000 standards. What is required is confirmed continual improvement - requiring them to set SMART quality objectives -quantifiable, measurable & challenging goals set against a time-frame and allocated to some assigned person. Unimportant that some incremental improvements can be large or small but that, with time, the organisation continues to improve overall effectiveness/efficiency (i.e. some times the tap can be flowing at maximum pressure whilst at others it will only be providing a slow drip of continual improvements). Particularly important to those who start down this route for the first time & who start to measure/monitor such intended improvements. With the maturity of any system continuous imp. can become very difficult whilst continual imps. can still be possible (i.e. rate of improvements may slow as each successive objective is achieved). Does not indicate failure of any organisation but rather that they're beginning to optimise the effectiveness of their processes.One anecdote sticks and it comes from Eddison: "There is always a better way of doing something - find it & implement it".
All process/excellence models for improvement are principally concerned with a never ending "PLAN - DO - CHECK - ACT" Cycle. Plan to do something right, implement this, check and monitor the outcomes, act to bring about improvements.
Stephen Draper (Quality System Services)
E-Mail to discuss further if you wish : [email protected] or call on 01457 863671
See our website for our available courses related to Management Systems:

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25th Jun 2001 14:26

A bit late, but I've always liked these:

"The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you" - BB King

or, a little more surreal:

"Try? There is no try. There is only do or not do" - Yoda (from The Empire Strikes Back)

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15th Jun 2001 10:07

Three websites/e-mail lists jump to mind
Kevin Eikenberry's PowerQuotes site at

Kevin Lawrence's site at

Margot Zahers site at

My own experience is that each of these people have been more than happy to share their thoughts and materials.

Kind regards


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