Plans are useless, but planning is essential.
The plans are nothing, but the planning is everything.
Rely on planning, but never trust plans.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
echoing Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
In all forms of strategy, it is necessary to maintain the combat stance in everyday life and to make your everyday stance your combat stance. You must research this well.
Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645), famous Japanese samuri teacher and strategist
from the Water Book of the Book of Five Rings
He who defends everything defends nothing.
Frederick the Great (of Prussia)
In order to concentrate superior strength in one place, economy of force must be exercised in other places.
A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Can we put the quick
back into quick and dirty?
Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.
A decision which, viewed retrospectively,
is "obvious" to those who failed to make it originally.
When people cease to complain, they cease to think.
Yield to a man's taste, and he will yield to your interests.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873)
British MP and novelist;
author of "the worst opening sentence":
"It was a dark and stormy night ..."
People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.
Thomas Sowell, economist (and author)
I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and …
Always concede the principle,
win on the details.
paraphrase of advice from
Hardball: How politics is played ... by Christopher Matthews
To estimate the time to do a task:
estimate the time it should take,
multiply by 2, and
change the unit of measure to the next highest unit.
Thus we allocate 2 days for a one hour task.
Westheimer's Rule (from SoftEng Digest v5n45)
A bad beginning makes a bad ending.
Re: Patriot missile specifications, Robert I. Eachus, RISKS-12.01,
"This is NOT a failure of design or specification or production,
it is often the result of someone trying something
because he is dead anyway if it doesn't work.
Such successful tactics quickly become
the normal way the weapon is used."
I am reminded of something from The Mote in God's Eye by Niven and Pournelle:
"It's a nitwit idea.
Nitwit ideas are for emergencies.
The rest of the time you go by the Book,
which is mostly a collection of nitwit ideas that worked."
In Risks Digest:
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 91 12:07:09 BST
From: Clive Feather <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Nitwit ideas (Niven and Pournelle)
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,
Charlton Ogburn (1957), but spuriously attributed to a Gaius Petronius
Six phases of ill-considered projects
Investigate / Determine Blame / Search for the guilty
Punish the innocent
Reward the guilty / Reward the uninvolved
Unknown - many parallel sources and variations
If H-P knew what H-P knows, we would be three times as profitable.
maxim of H-P's then CEO Lew Platt
In the early years of this century, Steinmetz was brought to
General Electric's facilities in Schenectady, New York. GE had
encountered a performance problem with one of their huge electrical
generators and had been absolutely unable to correct it. Steinmetz, a
genius in his understanding of electromagnetic phenomena, was brought in
as a consultant - not a very common occurrence in those days, as it
would be now. Steinmetz also found the problem difficult to diagnose,
but for some days he closeted himself with the generator, its
engineering drawings, paper and pencil. At the end of this period, he
emerged, confident that he knew how to correct the problem. After he
departed, GE's engineers found a large "X" marked with chalk on the side
of the generator casing. There also was a note instructing them to cut
the casing open at that location and remove so many turns of wire from
the stator. The generator would then function properly. And indeed it
did. Steinmetz was asked what his fee would be. Having no idea in the
world what was appropriate, he replied with the absolutely unheard of
answer that his fee was $1000. Stunned, the GE bureaucracy then required
him to submit a formally itemized invoice. They soon received it. It
included two items:
(1) Marking chalk "X" on side of generator: $1.
(2) Knowing where to mark chalk "X": $999.
Classic story about Charles Proteus Steinmetz
(originally Karl August Rudolf Steinmetz),
pioneer in the field of electrical engineering.
Version told by Charles M. Vest, President of MIT
during commencement ceremonies June 1999.
It is so much easier to believe than to think; it is astounding how much more believing is done than thinking.
It is more astounding that an honest study was not made of conditions resulting from [the levees-only policy].
Not only was essential data not available but it appeared as though the failure to acquire it was deliberate.
The determination to carry out this impossible theory was so great that, with many, it appeared to be an obsession.