Quoteworthy: Brooks on the Proper Criterion for Success


“If we perceive our role aright, we then see more clearly the proper criterion for success: a toolmaker succeeds as, and only as, the users of his tools succeed with his aid. However shining the blade, however jeweled the hilt, however perfect the heft, a sword is tested only by cutting.”

Fred Brooks

This is a particularly interesting quote when we consider our deliverables as analysts as tools to be used by designers, developers and QA analysts. The measure for our success is, in truth, inseparable from the success of those that use our work to accomplish theirs.

Sure, there are lots of benchmarks and checklists for the forms and aesthetics of good requirements documentation, but what is the benefit of meeting those criteria if we don’t put our delivery team members in a position to succeed?

With that in mind, how successful a toolmaker are you? In what ways could you improve so as to help those who will use what you produce be more successful?



  1. Excellent post ! The best tools bring the best out of their users and are transparent… allowing the most interaction between the user’s natural thought process and the activity the tool facilitates. For me, improvement means making more intuitive tools.

  2. Thanks, Lionel! Welcome to Practical Analyst. Good point!

    Every tool has its purpose. I think sometimes we get lost in doing for doing’s sake, and forget to tailor our “tools” to their intended use.

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