Augustine's Laws

is an excellent book by Norman Augustine (isbn 0-670-80942-X). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages.

First the serious quotes:
To finish first you must first finish.
Little did the Greeks know - the universe actually consists of Earth, fire, water, and software.
The budgeting process resists change.
If you want it bad you get it bad.
We can overcome gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming. [Wernher von Braun]
The objective in business, however, is to measure how many undertakings are completed - not how many can be started.
reliability… must be designed into the product by the designer and built into it by the manufacturer - it cannot be inculcated by the quality department.
…the parts which break… are always the ones located in the most inaccessible places. Therefore, only a few mechanics are able to crowd around them simultaneously.
Managers must have the discipline not to keep pulling up the flowers to see if their roots are healthy [Robert Townsend]
and second the funny quotes:
Anybody can have an off decade.
...turned out to be the earliest they had ever been late.
Our team is well balanced - we have problems everywhere.
…trying to leap deep chasms in two bounds.
If it weren't for bad luck he'd have no luck at all.
It's like sending lettuce by rabbit.
There was good news and there was bad news. The good news was that management was buying everyone on the assembly line a turkey for Christmas. The bad news was that they had only ordered ten turkeys.
A knife without a blade, for which the handle is missing. [Lichtenberg]
Lord Barnetson, chairman of the London Observer, has had attributed to him the following anecdote about how a management critic would review Schubert's Unfinished Symphony:
  • It appears that for a considerable period of time the four oboe players had nothing to do. The number should be reduced, and their work spread over the whole orchestra...
  • All twelve violins were playing identical notes. This seems unnecessary duplication and the staff of the section should be drastically cut...
  • Much effort was absorbed in the playing of demisemi-quavers. This seems an excessive refinement, and it is recommended that all notes be rounded up to the nearest semiquaver...
  • No useful purpose is served by repeating with horns the passage that had already been handled by the strings...