Quote for the day

We trained hard . . . but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.
Petronius Arbiter

It’s a quote widely used by cynical observers of organisations. Petronius Arbiter was a real person, and was cynical enough to come out with such a line, but did he actually say it?

The reality:

Callee says it best, on the Snopes message board:


Turns out, the sucker is totally fake. Here is a great investigation of it.

The link is to an article by Jim Reeds, who found that the quote didn’t appear anywhere in the works of Petronius Arbiter, and was probably invented by Robert Townsend in Up the Organization (Knopf, New York, 1970).

Townsend also gave the world the following quote in the same book:

“And God created the Organization and gave it dominion over man…

Genesis 1, 30A, Subparagraph VII”


1 thought on “Quote for the day

  1. Pingback: Quote of the moment: Reorganization creates illusion of progress, and demoralization – Charlton Ogburn | Millard Fillmore's Bathtub

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