June 19, 2014

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – from Bert Lance and Burger King to Dilbert and beyond…



THE PROVERBIAL AXIOM:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
      
Bert Lance (1931-2013)
       American banker and political advisor to President Jimmy Carter
       This was
already a proverbial saying in the Southern U.S. and maybe elsewhere before Lance adopted it as one of his own favorite quips. But Lance is widely credited with popularizing the saying and making it a national catchphrase. It’s a pithy way of expressing the belief that if some thing or policy is working adequately, it makes no sense — and may be unwise — to try to change or improve it. Lance was a top advisor to Jimmy Carter during the 1976 presidential campaign and served as Carter’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget from January 1977 until he was forced to resign in September 1977, due to allegations of past banking improprieties. During that time, Lance’s use of the “If it ain’t broke…” saying was quoted in many news stories and articles and is still cited in many books about politics and quotations.



THE BURGER KING EXAMPLE:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Right? Well, Burger King didn’t get the memo. They’ve decided to flip their 40-year-old slogan. The days of ‘Have It Your Way’ will soon be a thing of the past. Their new slogan ‘Be Your Way’ kicks off this month. What the heck does that even mean?”
       A May 2014 article on NewsFixNow.com about the fast food chain’s puzzling new advertising slogan

 



ADVICE FOR REAL WORLD DILBERTS:

“Remember: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!" But if it is ‘broke’ or if the current operation is not optimum, make changes and additions for an improved operation that complies with ISO 9000 standards.”
       Quoted
in The American Society for Quality Control’s 49th Annual Quality Congress Proceedings (1995)



THE “MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON” VERSION:

“If it is broke, you’ve got nothing to lose from trying.”
      
William Langewiesche
       American journalist and book author 
       In his book Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson (2009)
      
Langewiesche cited this as the philosophy adopted by pilot Chesley Sullenberger and first officer Jeffrey Skiles, who saved the lives of 155 passengers and crew members by successfully “landing” U.S. Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River in January 2009 after it was disabled in a collision with flying geese.



THE SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE VERSION:

“There are still many, many people who aren’t willing to listen to mounting evidence about environmental dysfunction. Their mantra is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ but mine is, ‘If it ain’t fixable, don’t break it.’”
      
David Wann
       American author, filmmaker and advocate of “sustainable lifestyles”
      
An excerpt from his book Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle (2007)



ADVICE FOR HUSBANDS WILLING TO RISK THEIR WIFE’S WRATH:

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it and if it is broke wiggle your way out of fixing it.”
      
Quoted in the book Never Hang Wallpaper With Your Wife (2006) 
       A guide to “decorating and renovating from a guy’s point of view,” written by William S. Peckham and Michael C. Hammar

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