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Favorite Project Management Quotes

Favorite QuotesThere isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t hear some awesome quote or analogy.  I put as many as I can into my mental back pocket, hoping for an opportunity to pull one out at a moments notice.  When you’re stuck for a quote or analogy, to help someone understand what you’re trying to say, do you ever ask yourself what’s that awesome quote that I just heard the other day?

Here are 10 that I keep handy.  Are there any quotes you would like to share?  Please add them to the comments section.

  • Because the needs of the one… outweigh the needs of the many.Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Captain Kirk.  I like to use this quote when explaining the contrast between egoism, utilitarianism, and altruism (servant-leadership).
  • The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain. – Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Scotty. I’m admittedly a Star Trek geek.  I’ve used this once when trying to articulate Lean thinking.  I also segway into the untrue but compelling story of the Million Dollar Space Pen.
  • The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care. – Office Space, Peter Gibbons.  I like to use Office Space quotes, particularly when referring to empowered teams and while drinking from my Initech coffee cup.  Mmm’kay? Greeeeat.
  • Luck is not a factor. Hope is not a strategy. Fear is not an option. – James Cameron.  This quote was on the back of the LeadingAgile t-shirts we all wore at Agile 2012.  I still have strangers walk up to me and ask about its origin.
  • That which does not kill us makes us stronger. – Friedrich Nietzsche.  I think of this quote during almost every run I take.  After taking an inventory as to my physical condition, I have a mental debate as to stopping or keep pushing forward. I keep pushing forward.
  • We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.– Walt Disney.  I’ve told my son over and over again to challenge the status quo (I don’t call it the status quo because he’s seven) and when given the choice, try new things.
  • When we go into that new project, we believe in it all the way.  We have confidence in our ability to do it right. – Walt Disney  The power of positive thinking and an empowered team.
  • Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential – Winston Churchill.  Another almost identical quote came from Dwight D. Eisenhower: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything When I talk about the Agile Manifesto and how we should be responding to change over following a plan, this becomes one of my most commonly used quotes.
  • Stable Velocity. Sustainable Pace – Mike Cottmeyer.  This quote appears on the back of the LeadingAgile running shirt. It has become the unofficial motto of my life, as it applies to work, family, and running
  • We don’t need an accurate document, we need a shared understanding – Jeff Patton. I was attending Jeff’s session at Agile 2012, when I heard him say this.  It really resonated with me.  I don’t know if the quote was scripted or impromptu.  Regardless, when I recently quoted him at a Project Managment Symposium in Washington DC, I saw over 400 project managers nodding their heads.

This post was originally published on LeadingAgile

About Derek Huether

I'm an Enterprise Agile Coach at LeadingAgile. I have a goal to take the hand waving out of Agile, Kanban, & Scrum. I’m a strange combination of a little OCD, a little ADHD, a lot of grit, and a lot of drive. I come from a traditional PM background but I don't give points for stuff done behind the scenes. The only thing that counts is what you get done and delivered. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon)

4 Responses to “Favorite Project Management Quotes”

  1. October 14, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I use “Scott’s Law” to help explain why redundancy improves availability, but at the expense of almost every other metric. Here are a few “Dave-isms” from my hip pocket.

    Perfectionists are responsible for more failed projects than incompetents.

    While civilians like to talk about strategy, generals tend to talk about logistics. Similarly, project managers tend talk about risks.

    Assigning the blame is not as valuable as fixing the problem.

    If you can only explain it to another expert, you don’t understand it.

    Writing something down doesn’t make it more understandable, just more durable.

    Complexity is only a virtue to the guy who sells spare parts.

    Any device more complicated than a bowling ball will eventually break. Plan accordingly.

    • derekhuether
      October 15, 2012 at 10:30 am

      I laughed out loud when I read “Complexity is only a virtue to the guy who sells spare parts.”

      Isn’t THAT the truth!?

  2. Kate
    March 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    We don’t need an accurate document, we need a shared understanding – Jeff Patton

    How do you really know if you have a shared understanding without an accurate document? Have you not left a meeting after everyone nods, only to talk with individuals and find they have very different views of what was just agreed to.

    • derekhuether
      March 8, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      Kate, when Jeff said it, it was in the spirit of the Agile Manifesto. We value an accurate document, but we value a shared understanding more. I’ve seen very accurate documents that only offered one perspective of a team member. The team didn’t have a shared understanding. What would have more value would be if they combined their views (through direct conversations) and then captured those views in an appropriately detailed document.

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