1. Augustine's Law: “A bad idea executed to perfection is still a bad idea.” (Brainy Quote 2007) Norman R. Augustine is a former Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin and a writer of wry observations on business and life including a large number of “laws.” One corollary is: A good idea poorly executed is of no use to anyone.
2. Lakein's Law: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Alan Lakein is a self-help writer focusing on personal time management. Lakein is a proponent of dividing one's tasks into lists of A, B, and C priorities to get the most important things done first. The law was originally stated as “By failing to plan, you will free very little, if any, time, and by failing to plan you will almost certainly fail…” (Lakein, 1974, p. 45). A corollary is: “Exactly because we lack time to plan, we should take time to plan” (Ibid.).
3. Saint Exupéry's Law: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
4. Fitzgerald's Law: “There are two states to any large project: Too early to tell and too late to stop.” Ernest Fitzgerald, an engineer, manager, and former U.S. Air Force employee, is known for his work as a whistleblower that revealed waste in military contracting. Fitzgerald's original First Law of Program Management, includes the corollary: “Program advocates like to keep bad news covered up until they have spent so much money they can advance the sunk-cost argument; that it's too late to cancel the program because we've spent too much already” (Stevenson, 1993, p. 305). Another corollary is: Projects have momentum: once started they become increasingly difficult to stop.
5. Parkinson's Law: “Work expands to fill the time available.” C. Northcote Parkinson was a teacher and writer who captured the public's imagination in the mid-1950s with his satiric writings on government and business. Originally stated as “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,” this law has wide implications for projects (Parkinson, 1957, p. 1). Corollaries are: “It is the busiest man who has time to spare” (Ibid.); and, any project without an established due date will take an infinite amount of time.
6. Constantine's Law: “A fool with a tool is still a fool.” (Ambler & Constantine, 2000, p. 124) Larry Constantine is a software engineer and designer credited with seminal work in the Structured Design approach to software development. One important corollary of this law is: “A fool with a tool is a more dangerous fool.”
7. Graham's Law: “If they know nothing of what you are doing, they suspect you are doing nothing.” (Baker, Campbell, & Baker, 2007, p. 28) Robert J. Graham is a professor, consultant, and author of many books in the field of project management focusing on people and effective communication. One corollary to his law is: If someone tells you too much about what they are doing, they may actually be doing nothing. When a rhetorical “What are you up to?” results in an interminable recitation, there is a good chance that not much is being accomplished.
8. Murphy's Law: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” Although entire books have been written about this law and its origins, it is now generally credited to Edward Aloysius Murphy, Jr., who was an American military pilot and aerospace engineer involved in the research and development of safety systems for aircraft (Spark, 2006). The corollaries to this law are innumerable, but two are addressed below.
9. O'Brochta's Law: “Project management is about applying common sense with uncommon discipline.” (Zozer, Inc, 2008.) Michael O'Brochta is an author, lecturer, trainer, and consultant. As senior project manager at the CIA, he led the project management and systems engineering training and certification program to mature practices agency-wide. One of his corollaries is: “Great project managers have mastered the basics and have the discipline to adhere to them” (O'Brochta, 2008).
10. Kinser's Law: “About the time you finish doing something, you know enough to start.” James C. Kinser was an engineer, efficiency expert, and jack of all trades. Raised in the Southern Appalachian storytelling tradition, he knew that the best way to teach something was to tell a tale. As a corollary he used to say: “If you don't write that down, you won't remember it for when you need it.”
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