Who doesn't love a good quotation? Below are a collection of my favourites from the Adam's Axioms series.

  1. "Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless." — Thomas Alva Edison
  2. "To avoid letting the scope creep up to where it does take [xx] months to deliver, you should set a kill switch at the very start of the project. If a kill switch is triggered, the project is cancelled." — Mike Cohn in a subscriber email.
  3. "a minimum viable product that doesn’t achieve a certain goal—which could be usage, revenue, attention, or any of a number of other metrics. In this case, the kill switch could trigger cancelling the project outright or merely pivoting." - Mike Cohn
  4. "We know why [programs] fail; we know how to prevent their failure—so why do they still fail?" - Martin Cobb (1995)
  5. "… eight were over schedule, on average, by a factor of 1.6 and over budget by a factor of 1.9; the other two were cancelled and never delivered anything." — J.W. Carl and G.R. Freeman, 2010 in "Nonstationary root causes of Cobb’s paradox."
  6. "Nonstationary environmental factors prevent requirements from being estab- lished early with the thought that they will not change. They will certainly change independent of the degree of discipline and process maturity on the part of the system developer." — J.W. Carl and G.R. Freeman, 2010. "Nonstationary root causes of Cobb’s paradox."
  7. "A temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result" — Project Management Institute in PMBOK Ed 7
  8. "But as "project" and "network" become the norm, "who’s in charge?" becomes problematic. Everyone needs to learn to work in teams, "with" multiple, indepen- dent experts, often from multiple, independent companies; each will be dependent upon all the others voluntarily giving their best. The new lead actor/"boss"— the project manager—must learn to command and coach; that is, to deal with paradox. Here are eight dilemmas she or he must master" — Tom Peters "Pursuing the Perfect Project Manager".
  9. "Always be closing" Blake (Alec Baldwin) from "Glengarry Glen Ross" by David Mamet
  10. "Even today, I see technical program managers have a similar problem. They often lack a sense of ownership for the problem. They think they need to ask permission. I have a personal motto: proceed until apprehended. This is a principle that I tell every single person on my team. It’s a principle that I preach to everyone in the field. You are here to make decisions or facilitate the process to get a decision made. If you are not getting decisions made, you’re not doing your job on projects and programs." — Michael Lubrano quoted in ‘Project Managers at Work’ by Bruce Harpham. Apress. Kindle Edition.
  11. "Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done —is essential." — The Agile Manifesto, 10th Principle
  12. "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." — Antoine de St Exupéry
  13. "Abundance results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity." — Stephen R Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  14. " ... inspire energy, joy, productivity, and dedication in their subordinates stand out. Though research attempts to explain this phenomenon, no model fully captures the diverse behaviours exhibited by such leaders or the mental models driving those behaviours." — Freebairn-Smith (2009)
  15. "… prospective thinking as first and foremost a set of mental acts designed to guide future action for practical ends." — Baumeister et al. (2016)
  16. "projects are distinctly human endeavors taking place in unknowable futures. Planning and plan execution are tied directly to both the people who are perform- ing the project and the future that unfolds while they do that." — Hal Macomber in "Notes on the Underlying Theory of Project Management is Obsolete" on his blog Reforming Project Management (link defunct — accessed by Internet Archive2).
  17. "[Scrum] … is a compression algorithm for worldwide best practices observed in over 50 years of software development … it is simple to implement and automatically unpacks and encourages a software development team to deploy best practices …" — Jeff Sutherland in "The Scrum Papers: Nut, Bolts, and Origins of an Agile Framework" 2011
  18. "… experience the quality without a name. This … can only be spoken of as a set of core values the "speed of trust" the sources of "ba" often seen on Scrum teams."" — Jeff Sutherland in "The Scrum Papers: Nut, Bolts, and Origins of an Agile Framework" 2011
  19. "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."— attributed to Henry Ford, but no evidence to support this (citation)
  20. "The user will never know what they want until after the system is in production (maybe not even then)" — Jeff Sutherland in The Origins of Scrum
  21. "Projects can implement any functional requirement if they relax the non- functional requirements sufficiently". — Tom Gilb (exact reference unknown but confirmed by Tom)
  22. "architecture concerns the parts of a system that are hard to change later" — Neal Ford et al. in "Building Evolutionary Architectures".
  23. "I coined the term technical debt to describe a software development strategy by which skillful and alert teams could create excellent software in a competitive environment. Through careful attention to accumulating insufficiencies one could engage customers and learn what is both valuable and possible together without losing control of the product itself. I was drawing an analogy between the debt financing of a growing company and the incremental intellectual investment in a growing program. I used the idea of debt metaphorically, a metaphor that has been lost on pretty much everyone." — Ward Cunningham in "Done is Dead"1
  24. "A mess is not a technical debt. A mess is just a mess. Technical debt decisions are made based on real project constraints. They are risky, but they can be beneficial. The decision to make a mess is never rational, is always based on laziness and unprofessionalism, and has no chance of paying of in the future. A mess is always a loss." — Uncle Bob Martin
  25. "the term 'technical debt', as used, is too mild to properly describe some pretty bad behavior. " — Ron Jeffries.
  26. "I believe that teams generally slack on quality due to feeling pressure, and either do not make a conscious decision to do so, or rationalise the decision based on the notion that they can make up the time. I believe that any such decision is most likely to be wrong. " – Ron Jeffries3
  27. "Assumptions make an Ass out of U and Me" — Unknown.
  28. "Everyone Knows When You Make an Assumption, You Make An Ass Out Of ’U’ And ’Umption.’" — Mitch Hennessey (The Long Kiss Goodnight)
  29. "Statisticians, like artists, have the bad habit of falling in love with their models." — George Box, British Statistician
  30. "[Congress] should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." John F Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
  31. "All models are wrong. Some are useful." — George Box
  32. "Plans are useless, but planning is everything." — General Dwight D Eisenhower
  33. "Prediction is not just one of the things your brain does. It is the primary function of the neocortex, and the foundation of intelligence. The cortex is an organ of prediction." — Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee in "On Intelligence".
  34. "… a hypothesis means we have an educated guess that requires experimentation and data to validate or invalidate. These hypotheses span the gamut from who’s the customer(s), to what’s the value proposition (product/service features), pricing, distribution channel, and demand creation (customer acquisition, acti- vation, retention, etc.)" — Steve Blank - Why Build, Measure, Learn — isn’t just throwing things against the wall to see if they work — the Minimal Viable Product2
  35. "The calculated result should have as many significant figures as the least number of significant figures among the measured quantities used in the calculation" — Significant Figures (Wikipedia)4
  36. "The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams." — Agile Manifesto, 11th Principle
  37. "Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project." — Agile Manifesto, 10th Principle
  38. "The profile of a typical fraudster is a long-serving, trusted employee who works long hours and is reluctant to take their annual leave." — Jonathan Middup, Partner at Ernst & Young’s Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services practice. — cited in "Vacation Fraud"3
  39. "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept." — Lieutenant-General David Morrison (Chief of the Australian Army)
  40. "Action expresses priorities" — Mahatma Gandhi
  41. "most of our industry pays more lip service to risk management than it actually performs." —Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister in Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects.
  42. "The title of the award came from the notion that when penguins are about to jump into water that might contain predators, well, somebody’s got to be the first penguin." — Randy-Pausch1
  43. "I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurised Stilton, raw oysters or working for organised crime ’associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure" — Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly cited on goodreads.com2
  44. "People were asking me [before a fight], ’What’s going to happen?.’ They were talking about his style. ’He’s going to give you a lot of lateral movement. He’s going to move, he’s going to dance. He’s going to do this, do that.’ I said, "Everybody has a plan until they get hit. Then, like a rat, they stop in fear and freeze.’" — Mike Tyson
  45. "A world in which all projects succeed with project management as a life skill for all." — Association for Project Management in Vision / Strategy Statement
  46. "There are just as many notes as I required, neither more nor less." — attributed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in the movie ’Amadeus’.