Project Sayings


  1.  If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.
  2. The nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.
  3. Initial planning is the most vital part of a project.  The review of most failed projects indicates the disasters were well planned to happen from the start.
  4. It’s not the plan, it’s the planning. Graeme Edwards.
  5. Plans are nothing, planning is everything. Eisenhower.
  6. No plan survives contact with the enemy. Field-Marshal Helmuth von Moltke
  7. Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. Mike Tyson
  8. Want it bad, get it bad.
  9. Are you doing the right things? Are you doing them right?
  10. I may punch you in the nose, but I won’t stab you in the back. Jim Brooks
  11. When you work off your in-box you are working on everyone else’s priorities, not your own.
  12. Be precise. A lack of precision is dangerous when the margin of error is small. (Eliminate ambiguity!)
  13. Prune — prune businesses, products, activities, people. Do it annually.
  14. Develop a few key themes and stick to them. It works. Repetition is necessary.
  15. That which you require be reported on to you will improve, if you are selective. How you design your reporting system announces your priorities and sets the institution’s priorities.
  16. Remember: A’s hire A’s and B’s hire C’s.
  17. First law of holes: If you get in one, stop digging.
  18. The key to project planning and tracking is math. Everyone can add, subtract, multiply and divide.
  19. The best time to do a task is three weeks ago. The second best time is today.
  20. Advocate the impossible so that the possible becomes more probable.
  21. An organization that rewards firefighters breeds arsonists.
  22. The Highlander Rule: there can be only one. Useful when assigning responsibility.
  23. Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
  24. If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning (or cautionary tale).
  25. You can’t start doing something right until you’ve stopped doing it wrong.
  26. Chart the depth, we will sail this channel again.
  27. Throw the first one (version) away. Frederick Brooks
  28. In order to go off plan, you need to be on plan.
  29. In order to wing it, you need to know exactly what you are doing.
  30. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Carl Sagan
  31. Ugly facts trump beautiful theories. Thomas Huxley
  32. Your job is greater than your task. Lyle Feisel
  33. Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it.
  34. At the heart of every large project is a small project trying to get out.
  35. The most valuable and least used WORD in a project manager’s vocabulary is “NO”.
  36. The most valuable and least used PHRASE in a project manager’s vocabulary is “I don’t know”.
  37. You can force someone into committing to an impossible deadline, but you cannot force him to meet it.
  38. Tasks progress quickly until they become 90 percent complete and then remain at 90 percent forever.
  39. A project gets a year late one day at a time.
  40. A change freeze is like the abominable snowman: it is a myth and will always melt when heat is applied.
  41. While there never seems to be enough time to do it right the first time, there always seems to enough time to go back and do it again.
  42. If you don’t know how to do a task, start it, then ten people who know less than you will tell you how to do it.
  43. Projects happen in two ways: a) Planned and then executed or b) Executed, stopped, planned, and then executed.
  44. The same work under the same conditions will be estimated differently by ten different estimators or by one estimator at ten different times.
  45. Any project can be estimated accurately (once it’s completed).
  46. Most managers succeed on the skills and strength of their staff.
  47. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
  48. Too few people on a project can’t solve the problems – too many create more problems than they solve.
  49. A comfortable project manager is one waiting for their next assignment (or on the verge of failure).
  50. Everyone asks for a strong project manager – when they get one they don’t want one.
  51. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.
  52. A user will tell you anything you ask about, but nothing more.
  53. Of several possible interpretations of a communication, the least convenient is the probably the correct one.
  54. If it’s not on paper – it wasn’t said.
  55. A working meeting has about six people attending.  Meetings larger than this are for information transfer.
  56. I know that you believe that you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
  57. Wrong decisions made early can be recovered from.  Right decisions made late cannot correct them.
  58. The more you plan the luckier you get.
  59. If you don’t attack the risks, the risks will attack you.
  60. What you don’t know hurts you.
  61. Murphy is alive and well – and working on your project.
  62. Fast – cheap – good: pick any two.
  63. The conditions attached to a promise are forgotten, only the promise is remembered.
  64. Richard Feynman said it best: “The most important thing is to not fool yourself, and you’re the easiest person to fool.”
  65. We spread ourselves just thin enough to ensure failure across all fronts.
  66. We’d rather do 10 things 60% correct than 6 things 100% correct. Then we define 60% as an A.
  67. Not everything worth doing is worth doing well.
  68. “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”—General Eric Shinseki (retired Chief of Staff, U. S. Army)
  69. “If you have more than three priorities, then you don’t have any.” -Jim Collins
  70. “The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine.” – Abraham Lincoln
  71. The greatest trick the developer ever pulled was convincing the world that a bug was a feature.
  72. Just pick a lane and drive fast through the fog.
  73. In order to start doing things right, you have to stop doing them wrong.
  74. Consultants have credibility because they are not dumb enough to work at your company.
  75. It’s the hard that makes it great…
  76. Throw less at the problem – Jason Fried
  77. Everybody works, Hire managers of one – Jason Fried
  78. In the book Rework, 37 Signals co-founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson complain about people who “try to fix problems by throwing sheer hours at them…. This results in inelegant solutions.” Workaholics “aren’t heroes,” they write. “They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.”
  79. We lose $1 for every sale. We’re hoping to make it up on volume.
  80. “Expensive is when the product is not worth the money.” – Karl Welcher, Leica of Germany
  81. “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
  82. You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.
  83. Never argue with a fool, as onlookers might not be able to tell the difference.
  84. They that are fated to be fools, have one consolation that they are fated also to be ignorant of it.
  85. It’s the 90% that gives the rest of us a bad name.
  86. Parkinson’s Law is the adage first articulated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as the first sentence of a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955. Work expands to the time allotted.
  87. Parkinson’s Law of Triviality, also known as bikeshedding or the bicycle shed example, is C. Northcote Parkinson’s 1957 argument that organisations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues. Parkinson demonstrated this by contrasting the triviality of a bike shed to a nuclear reactor. Later, Poul-Henning Kamp applied the law to software development and introduced the colour of the bike shed as the proverbial trivial detail receiving disproportionate attention.
  88. The Peter Principle states that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”, meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently. It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, a humorous treatise which also introduced the “salutary science of hierarchiology.”
  89. Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.
  90. Conway’s Law: organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.
  91. “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” – Douglas Adams
  92. Measure what’s important. If you can’t measure what’s important, then measure what you can and argue it is important.
  93. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.
  94. Protoduction: when a prototype goes into production
  95. FDD = Fear Driven development
  96. Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment
  97. Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it. (Henry Ford)