Lessons for learning organizations LO16766

Richard C. Holloway (learnshops@thresholds.com)
Sat, 31 Jan 1998 14:08:47 -0800

Replying to LO16725 --

This might be a corollary to the list of things learned, that John Dicus
shared with us a few weeks ago--perhaps it can be called, Lessons to be
Learned From:


"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil?
You're crazy." --Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his
project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction". --Pierre Pachet,
Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the
intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon". --Sir John Eric Ericksen,
British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as
a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
--Western Union internal memo, 1876

"Everything that can be invented has been invented." --Charles H. Duell,
Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." --Lord Kelvin,
president, Royal Society, 1895.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." --Marechal
Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay
for a message sent to nobody in particular?" --David Sarnoff's associates
in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction
and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to
react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high
schools." -1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's
revolutionary rocket work.

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" --H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers,

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary
Cooper." -Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in
"Gone With The Wind."

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
--Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." --Thomas
Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." --Popular
Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with
the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that
won't last out the year." --The editor in charge of business books for
Prentice Hall, 1957

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." --Decca
Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"But what ... is it good for?" --Engineer at the Advanced Computing
Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." --Ken
Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of
your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to
accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of
weight training." --Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable"
problem by inventing Nautilus.

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even
built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or
we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come
work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard,
and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college
yet.'" -Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari
and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better
than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible." --A Yale University management
professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight
delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say
America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."
--Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"Who in their right mind would ever need more than 640k of ram!?"
- Bill Gates, 1981

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The
literature was full of examples that said you can't do this." --Spencer
Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It"

"Any serious graphics applications still run better on Apple's Macintosh
platform..." - Bill Gates, 1991

Doc Holloway

"The universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great
machine."  -James Jeans

Thresholds--developing critical skills for living organizations Visit us at <http://www.thresholds.com/> or <mailto:learnshops@thresholds.com> P.O. Box 2361 Phone:01 360 786 0925 Olympia, WA 98507 USA Fax: 01 360 709 4361

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <rkarash@karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>