A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 28, 2012
“Don’t expect what you don’t inspect” (management adage)

"Don’t expect what you don’t inpect” (also “Never expect what you don’t inspect” or “You can’t expect what you don’t inspect") is from The Success System That Never Fails (1962) by W. Clement Stone (1902-2002):

“But herein lies a secret of success: Don’t expect what you don’t inspect. You can readily see that you will live up to your New Year’s resolutions much more effectively if you check on yourself every day and keep trying.”

The saying has been popular in business management and has also been used in the military. Several citations (see the 1992 and 2002 citations below) appear to indicate that the saying originated in the army, but “Don’t expect what you don’t inpect” hasn’t been documented earlier than Stone’s 1962 book.

The saying has also been written in the form “You can expect what you inspect” (cited in print since at least 1959 or 1962).


Wikipedia: W. Clement Stone
William Clement Stone (May 4, 1902– September 3, 2002) was a businessman, philanthropist and New Thought self-help book author.

Google Books
The Success System That Never Fails
By W. Clement Stone
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
1962
Pg. ?:
But herein lies a secret of success: Don’t expect what you don’t inspect. You can readily see that you will live up to your New Year’s resolutions much more effectively if you check on yourself every day and keep trying.

16 October 1979, Winnipeg (Manitoba) Free Press, pg. 52, col.  classified ad:
DON’T EXPECT WHAT
YOU DON’T INSPECT
SUPERSTRONG—Western Canada’s leader in industrial lighting is now expanding into Manitoba.

Google Books
The Successful Volunteer Organization:
Getting started and getting results in nonprofit, charitable, grass roots, and community groups

By Joan Flanagan
Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books
1984
Pg. 139:
“Don’t expect what you don’t inspect.”
W Clement Stone,
The Success System That Never Fails

Google Books
All in Good Time
By Donna Otto
Nashville, TN: T. Nelson
1985
Pg. 90:
You will probably need to make a final inspection, but you will find better results when children know exactly what they are supposed to work on. You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.

Google Books
Productivity by Choice:
The 20-to-1 principle

By Martin F. Stankard
New York, NY: Wiley
1986
Pg. 72:
DON’T EXPECT WHAT YOU DON’T INSPECT
Assuming that you do have a plan and monthly or quarterly checkpoints, inspect progress often and stay constructive. If you have made productivity goals clear to all concerned, then scrutiny is completely fair.

Google Books
Service Excellence:
Marketing’s impact on performance

Edited by American Marketing Association
Chicago, IL: American Marketing Association
1989
Pg. 84:
Remember that “you can’t expect what you don’t inspect.” Document Everything. There’s no such thing as too much documentation. You should regard good records, manuals, definitions, etc. as integral to the project.

Google Books
Profitable Direct Marketing (2nd edition)
By Jim Kobs
Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Business Books
1992
Pg. 263:
Check the details
My old boss, W. Clement Stone, swore by the maxim, “Never expect what you don’t inspect.”

Google Books
What’s Ethical in Business?
By Verne E. Henderson
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
1992
Pg. 205:
In the army the saying goes “don’t expect what you don’t inspect.” The corporate equivalent is, “what the boss watches well gets done well.”

Salon.com
Wednesday, Aug 21, 2002 06:45 PM CDT
An equine renaissance
Arlington Park’s owner rebuilt it after it burned, only to shut it down. Now the gleaming racetrack is bringing the Breeders’ Cup to the Midwest.

By King Kaufman
(...)
Dick Duchossois made his fortune after he returned from World War II, where he served under Gen. George S. Patton. A sign on his desk that explains his management philosophy — “Don’t expect what you don’t inspect” — comes from his war experience, when as a captain he sent a lieutenant to guard a gully that Duchossois hadn’t looked at. Turned out to be the wrong gully, and the unit was overrun by Germans. “Was it his fault or was it my fault? I can’t blame him; he was only a lieutenant. I was a captain at the time. I’m responsible.”

New York (NY) Times
EXECUTIVE LIFE: THE BOSS; Making His Numbers
By GEORGE CONRADES; Written with Glenn Rifkin
Published: November 17, 2002
(...)
The best advice I got as a young I.B.M. salesman came from a crusty old regional manager: ‘’Make your numbers. Performance sells.’’ I made my numbers and I advanced. Along the way, a hard-nosed senior executive told me, ‘’Don’t expect what you don’t inspect.’’ You can’t simply throw out goals and hope people are complying. You have to inspect what is going on. Those two pieces of advice helped me rise nearly to the top of I.B.M. When I left after 31 years, I was senior vice president and general manager of I.B.M.’s U.S. business.

Google Books
Mastering the World of Selling:
The Ultimate Training Resource from the Biggest Names in Sales

By Eric Taylor and David Riklan
Hoboken, NJ: Wiley
2010
Pg. ?:
There’s an old saying that goes “Don’t expect what you don’t inspect.” If you don’t inspect your rep’s performance in the field, you can’t expect improvement.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • (1) Comments • Monday, May 28, 2012 • Permalink


Expecting from a certain thing can sometimes lead you to disappointments and frustrations. It is better not to expect at all rather just focus and be ready for the future ahead that lies. I have already read the book about the Success System That Never Fails. It reminds me how life is to be lived up with great effort, double your hard work and think what you can do better than what you did yesterday.

Posted by motorcycle covers  on  05/29  at  01:45 AM

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