Quotable Mumford
A collection of insightful & memorable offerings from the work of Dr. Mumford.

Home: Editorial
Key Learnings: Bridging Creativity and Systems Thinking
The Work: The Assessment and Development of High Level Talent
Book Review: Pathways to Outstanding Leadership
Book Review: Leadership 101


  Quotable Mumford

Influence by the Numbers
Web of Science Top 10
Quotable Mumford
Mumford Propositions
Selected Bibliography


“First, intuition involves the identification of a pattern with minimal information. Second, intuition is not necessarily subject to conscious objective analysis. Third, intuition serves to guide work on complex tasks, at times inducing affect. Put more directly, intuition may be said to involve the formation of an inarticulate, unconscious, pattern that guides problem-solving and decision making on complex tasks.” (Eubanks, Murphy, & Mumford, 2010, p. 171)

“By identifying the operations people use to combine and reorganize categories, it becomes possible to take steps that will facilitate the generation of new ideas.” (Baughman & Mumford, 1995, p. 58)

“An additional mechanism by which an organization or complex social system can side-step the pitfalls of dominant mental model application is by encouraging members within the system to question the current modus operandi.” (Caughron, Shipman, Beeler, & Mumford, 2009,  p. 24)

“Given that this type of  innovation will alter current relationships and redefine social interactions within the system, it is necessary to attend to emotions, goals, roles, and involvement by various actors within the system is important.” (Caughron, Shipman, Beeler, & Mumford, 2009,  p. 21)

“The complex, ambiguous, and unstable nature of social systems, often makes it extremely difficult to identify the causes, or sources of action, operating within the system at hand.” (Marcy & Mumford, 2007, p. 124)

“… identifying and controlling of key causes in complex systems plays a role in effective leader performance. The implication of these findings is clear: leaders' performance can benefit from training in causal analysis, particularly those working in complex environments where strategic interventions are often required.” (Marcy & Mumford, 2010, pp. 16-17)

“It was found that (Benjamin) Franklin identified problems based on practical need, analyzed causes carefully, generated contextually appropriate low-cost implementation strategies, and built the support needed for demonstration projects.” (Mumford, 2002, p. 253)

“…we need to be more inclusive when we study creative people, recognizing that different forms of creativity may exist in different domains.” (Mumford, 2003 , p. 118)

“…it behooves Americans to systematically develop creative potential wherever it may be found.” (Mumford & Gustafson, 1988, p. 39)

“For example, the emergence of multifunctional teams may have placed a new premium on breadth, as well as a depth, of expertise in the leadership of creative ventures. Moreover, any emphasis on teams, and collective control, may require leaders to exert direction through more interactive and participative mechanisms such as initiation of critical contacts. Put more directly, organizations may now need jazz group leaders rather than orchestra directors.” (Mumford, Scott, Gaddis,& Strange, 2002, p. 737)

“If there is anything we have learned in more than a century of research, it is that creative achievement is a complex phenomenon which flowers only under the right conditions (Mumford & Gustafson, 1988). The complex delicacy of the creative act becomes even more evident in organizational setting because a host of new variables enter the picture that are, at best, only of limited concern when we focus on individuals working alone.” (Mumford & Simonton, 1997, p. 2)

“…providing time to think before one acts may do much to enhance creative thought in organizations.” (Mumford, Whetzel, & Reiter-Palmon, 1997, p. 10)

“Complexity, novelty, and information ambiguity define one set of attributes that set apart leaders’ problem solving efforts. It is important to remember that leaders solve problems in “real-world” settings where time is short and demands are many.” (Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Jacobs, & Fleishman, 2000, p. 14)

“The available evidence, however, indicates that creative problem-solving skills may indeed represent an important influence on leader performance.”
(Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Jacobs, & Fleishman, 2000, pp 17-18)

“Leaders may do much to facilitate creativity simply by acknowledging subordinate potential and accomplishments.” (Redmond & Mumford, 1993, p. 146)

“…these observation lead to relatively unambiguous conclusion. Creativity training works.” (Scott, Leritz, & Mumford, 2004, p. 382)