Quotations by Rickover, Hyman


Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience.

Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) US Navy Admiral
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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If you are going to sin, sin against God, not the bureaucracy. God will forgive you but the bureaucracy won’t.

Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) US Navy Admiral
(Attributed)

Quoted in New York Times (3 Nov 1986).
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Feb-21
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It is a human inclination to hope things will work out, despite evidence or doubt to the contrary. A successful manager must resist this temptation. This is particularly hard if one has invested much time and energy on a project and thus has come to feel possessive about it. Although it is not easy to admit what a person once thought correct now appears to be wrong, one must discipline himself to face the facts objectively and make the necessary changes — regardless of the consequences to himself. The man in charge must personally set the example in this respect. He must be able, in effect, to “kill his own child” if necessary and must require his subordinates to do likewise.

Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) US Navy Admiral
(Attributed)

Quoted in T. Rockwell, The Rickover Effect (1992)

Added on 11-Aug-08 | Last updated 9-May-14
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To do a job effectively, one must set priorities. Too many people let their “in” basket set the priorities. On any given day, unimportant but interesting trivia pass through an office; one must not permit these to monopolize his time. The human tendency is to while away time with unimportant matters that do not require mental effort or energy. Since they can be easily resolved, they give a false sense of accomplishment. The manager must exert self-discipline to ensure that his energy is focused where it is truly needed.

Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) US Navy Admiral
(Attributed)

Quoted in T. Rockwell, The Rickover Effect (1992)

Added on 26-Aug-08 | Last updated 9-May-14
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Nothing so sharpens the thought process as writing down one’s arguments. Weaknesses overlooked in oral discussion become painfully obvious on the written page.

Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) US Navy Admiral
(Attributed)

Quoted in T. Rockwell, The Rickover Effect (1992).

Added on 10-Sep-08 | Last updated 7-Mar-14
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Nature is not as forgiving as Christ.

Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) US Navy Admiral
(Attributed)

Quoted in T. Rockwell, <i>The Rickover Effect</i> (1992)

Added on 10-Dec-08 | Last updated 10-Dec-08
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The man in charge must concern himself with details. If he does not consider them important, neither will his subordinates. Yet “the devil is in the details.” It is hard and monotonous to pay attention to seemingly minor matters. In my work, I probably spend about ninety-nine percent of my time on what others may call petty details. Most managers would rather focus on lofty policy matters. But when the details are ignored, the project fails. No infusion of policy or lofty ideals can then correct the situation.

Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) US Navy Admiral
(Attributed)

Quoted in T. Rockwell, The Rickover Effect (1992)

Added on 16-Mar-09 | Last updated 3-Oct-13
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Always use the chain of command to issue orders, but if you use the chain of command for information, you’re dead.

Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) US Navy Admiral
(Attributed)

Quoted in Bill Walsh, "Information, Please!" <i>Forbes ASAP</i> (27 Feb 1995)

Added on 19-Mar-09 | Last updated 19-Mar-09
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Avoid over-coordination. We have all observed months-long delays caused by an effort to bring all activities into complete agreement with a proposed policy or procedure. While the coordinating machinery is slowly grinding away, the original purpose is often lost. The essence of the proposals is being worn down as the persons most concerned impatiently await the decision. The process has been aptly called coordinating to death.

Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) US Navy Admiral
Address delivered to US Naval Post Graduate School (16 March 1954)
Added on 24-Feb-09 | Last updated 24-Feb-09
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To doubt one’s own first principles is the mark of a civilized man. Don’t defend past actions; what is right today may be wrong tomorrow. Don’t be consistent; consistency is the refuge of fools.

Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) US Navy Admiral
Address to US Naval Post-Graduate School (16 Mar 1954)
Added on 16-Jun-08 | Last updated 16-Jun-08
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All men are by nature conservative but conservatism in the military profession is a source of danger to the country. One must be ready to change his line sharply and suddenly, with no concern for the prejudices and memories of what was yesterday. To rest upon formula is a slumber that, prolonged, means death.

Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) US Navy Admiral
Address, US Naval Post Graduate School (16 Mar 1954)
Added on 3-Dec-08 | Last updated 3-Dec-08
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