Rumsfeld’s Rules

  • Beware the Unknown Knowns: Things that you think you know, that it turns out you did not.
  • “Belief in the inevitability of conflict can become one of it’s main causes” is apjust as true as “If you wish for peace, prepare for war”. And both these together can be used to justify anything. They’re a paradox just like “All generalizations are false, including this one.” The point here is that rules cannot be a substitute for judgment.
  • The act of calling a meeting about a problem can in some cases be confused with actually doing something.
  • Stubborn opposition to proposals often has no basis other than the complaining question, “Why wasn’t I consulted?”
  • Without the best people in place, the best ideas don’t matter.
  • A’s hire A’s. B’s hire C’s. If you want to find out which managers are A’s and which are B’s, take a hard look at the teams that surround them.
  • The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men.
  • If you are working from your inbox, you are working on other people’s priorities.
  • People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.
  • If you don’t know what your top three priorities are, you don’t have priorities.
  • The assumptions that are hidden or held subconsciously are the ones that often get you into trouble.
  • What you measure improves.
  • Planning done well allows for improvisation. It allows for an openness to being wrong.
  • Tell them what you know. Tell them what you don’t know. And only then, tell them what you think. And be sure you distinguish among them.
  • You can persuade a man to believe almost anything provided he is clever enough.
  • more often than not surprises are the result of bureaucracies coping with too much information, rather than too little.
  • The contingency we have not considered seriously looks strange; what looks strange is thought improbable; what is improbable need not be considered seriously.
  • Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
  • Mistakes will always be made, but the least we can do is try to make original mistakes, rather than repeating old ones.
  • If in writing it takes over thirty minutes to write the first two paragraphs, select another subject.
  • A lie travels halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on.
  • Leadership is by consent, not command. A leader must persuade.
  • Remember you are not all that important. Your responsibilities are.
  • You never get in trouble for what you don’t say.
  • The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries. —Winston Churchill
  • What one needs in life are the pessimism of intelligence and the optimism of will. —
  • We cannot ensure success, but we can deserve it. —George Washington



Rumsfeld’s Rules (in less than 10 minutes)

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