Theodore Levitt Quotes

Who is Theodore Levitt?

Theodore Levitt was a German-born American economist and a professor at the Harvard Business School.

Born March 01, 1925
Died June 28, 2006

Books by Theodore Levitt


Best 32 Quotes by Theodore Levitt | Page 1 of 2

“A powerful force drives the world toward a converging commonality, and that force is technology. Almost everyone everywhere wants all the things they have heard about, seen, or experienced via the new technologies.”

“A powerful new idea can kick around unused in a company for years, not because its merits are not recognized, but because nobody has assumed the responsibility for converting it from words into action.”

“A product is not a product unless it sells. Otherwise it is merely a museum piece.”

“All organizations are hierarchical. At each level people serve under those above them. An organization is therefore a structured institution. If it is not structured, it is a mob. Mobs do not get things done, they destroy things.”

“An industry begins with the customer and his or her needs, not with a patent, a raw material, or a selling skill.”

“Anything in excess is a poison.”

“Creative people tend to pass the responsibility for getting down to brass tacks to others.”

“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.”

“Customers buy 1/4 holes, not 1/4 bits.”

“Every major industry was once a growth industry. But some that are now riding a wave of growth enthusiasm are very much in the shadow of decline. Others that are thought of as seasoned growth industries have actually stopped growing. In every case, the reason growth is threatened, slowed, or stopped is not because the market is saturated. It is because there has been a failure of management.”

“Experience comes from what we have done. Wisdom comes from what we have done badly.”

“Ideas are useless unless used. The proof of their value is in their implementation. Until then, they are in limbo.”

“Ideas can be willed, and the imagination is their engine.”

“Ideation is not a synonym for innovation, conformity is not its simple antonym, and innovation is not the automatic consequence of 'creative thinking'.”

Products by Theodore Levitt

“In spite of the extraordinary outpouring of totally and partially new products and new ways of doing things that we are witnessing today, by far the greatest flow of newness is not innovation at all. Rather, it is imitation.”

“Just as energy is the basis of life itself, and ideas the source of innovation, so is innovation the vital spark of all human change, improvement and progress.”

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“Kodak sells film, but they don't advertise film; they advertise memories.”

“Nothing drives progress like the imagination. The idea precedes the deed. The only exceptions are accidents and natural selection.”

“One should not focus on the differences between people but look for commonality and similarity.”

“Organizations exist to enable ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”

“Organizations, by their very nature are designed to promote order and routine. They are inhospitable environments for innovation.”

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want to buy a quarter-inch hole!”

“Selling concerns itself with the tricks and techniques of getting people to exchange their cash for your product. It is not concerned with the values that the exchange is all about. And it does not, as marketing invariable does, view the entire business process as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse and satisfy customer needs.”

“Sustained success is largely a matter of focusing regularly on the right things and making a lot of uncelebrated little improvements every day.”

“The fact that a consistendy highly creative person is generally irresponsible in the sense that we have used this term is in part predictable from what is known about the freewheeling fantasies of very young children.”

“The oil industry is a stunning example of how science, technology, and mass production can divert an entire group of companies from their main task. No oil company gets as excited about the customers in its own backyard as about the oil in the Sahara Desert. But the truth is, it seems to me, that the industry begins with the needs of the customer for its products. From that primal position its definition moves steadily back stream to areas of progressively lesser importance until it finally comes to rest at the search for oil.”

“The purpose of a business is to get and keep a customer. Without customers, no amount of engineering wizardry, clever financing, or operations expertise can keep a company going.”

“The trouble with much of the advice business is getting today about the need to be more vigorously creative is, essentially, that its advocates have generally failed to distinguish between the relatively easy process of being creative in the abstract and the infinitely more difficult process of being innovationist in the concrete.”

Products by Theodore Levitt

“The true purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer, not to make you money.”

“Though progress starts with the imagination, only work can make things happen. And work itself works best when fueled, again by the imagination.”

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