Quote Archives

Hippocrates on Clarity of Language

“The chief virtue that language can have is clearness, and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words.” – Hippocrates

Apparently, even back in Hippocrates’ day (approximately 450 BC), business professionals had a tendency to confuse their stakeholders with acronyms, jargon, and odd colloquialisms. In business communication, first and foremost in importance is achieving mutual understanding. Some may be able to follow jargon or sophisticated phraseology, but one stands a far better chance of ensuring understanding with clear, simple, common language. Some things never change!

John Dewey on Starting with a Problem to be Solved

A problem well-stated is a problem half solved

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” – John Dewey

One of the more valuable lessons I’ve learned is that good solutions begin with a clear understanding of the problem to be solved. By starting with the problem, following up with objectives that articulate the definition of  success, and then ensuring that requirements and subsequent solution artifacts and trace cleanly to, and support the original problem, we can avoid the confusion and wasted resources associated with deviating from or adding scope to the solution’s original problem and intent.

Benjamin L. Kovitz on Requirements


“Without requirements, there is no way to validate a program design; that is, no way to logically connect the program to the customer’s desires.” 

— Benjamin L. Kovitz

If human communication and human memory were perfect, we may not need deliberation and documentation of requirements. Alas, neither is close to true. It is the iterative exercise of modeling requirements, and then documenting them that enables shared understanding to be affirmed, and then shared with those who use requirements to guide design, construction and quality assurance. Requirements are the link between concept and product, and an important standard for measuring solution success. 

Alistair Cockburn – Agile is an Attitude

Agile is an Attitude

“Agile … is an attitude, not a technique with boundaries. An attitude has no boundaries, so we wouldn’t ask ‘can I use agile here’, but rather ‘how would I act in the agile way here?’ or ‘how agile can we be, here?’”
— Alistair Cockburn

I’d like to share one of my favorite agile quotes from Alistair Cockburn, because it summarizes my own perspective so well. In my observance, many fail to differentiate agile principles from agile methodologies, and end up with a prescriptive/dogmatic view of the correct way to do or be “agile” that misses the mark.

Whether you’re working in an “Agile” or traditional delivery environment, you can find ways to apply agile principles and keep a responsive mindset.