Laws of IT projects

Murphys Law:

If anything can go wrong, it will.

Schmidts Law:

If you fiddle with something long enough, it will break.

Fudds First Law of Opposition:

If you push something hard enough, it will fall over.

Coles Law:

Thinly sliced cabbage.

Byers Law of Cussedness:

Something will go wrong.

Skinners constant (Flannagans finagling factor):

That quantity which, when multiplied by, divided by, added to, or subtracted

from the answer you get, gives you the answer you wanted.

Gilbs Laws of Unreliability:

1. Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable.

2. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable.

3. Undetectable errors are infinite in variety, in contrast to detectable

   errors, which by definition are limited.

4. Investment in reliability will increase until it exceeds the probable cost

   of errors, or until someone insists on getting some useful work done.

Brooks Law:

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.

Lubarsky’s Law of Cybernetic Entomology:

There’s always one more bug.

Shaws Principle:

Build a system that even a fool can use, and only a fool will want to use it.

IBM Pollyanna Principle:

Machines should work; people should think.

Law of the Perversity of nature:

You can not successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to


Law of Selective Gravity:

An object will fall so as to do the most damage.

Jennings Corollary:

The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly

Proportional to the cost of the carpet.

Klipsteins Corollary:

The most delicate component will be the one to drop.

Sprinkles Law:

Things always fall at right angles.

Anthony’s Law of The Workshop:

Any tool, when dropped, will roll into the least accessible corner of the


Paul’s Law:

You can’t fall off the floor.

Johnson’s First Law:

When any mechanical contrivance fails, it will do so at the most inconvenient

possible time.

Law of Annoyance:

When working on a project, if you put away a tool that you’re certain you’re

finished with, you will need it instantly.

Watsons Law:

The reliability of machinery is inversely proportional to the number and

significance of any persons watching it.

Sattingers Law:

It works better if you plug it in.

Lowery’s Law:

If it jams – force it . If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway.

Wyszkowski’s Law:

Anything can be made to work if you fiddle with it long enough.

Les Miserables Metalaw:

All laws, whether good, bad or indifferent, must be obeyed to the letter.

Persigs Postulate:

The number of rational hypotheses that can explain any given phenomenon is


Lilly’s Metalaw:

All laws are simulations of reality.

The Ultimate Principle:

By definition, when you are investigating the unknown you do not know what you

will find.

Cooper’s Metalaw:

A proliferation of new laws creates a proliferation of new loopholes.

Hartley’s First Law:

You can lead a horse to water, but if you can get him to float on his back,

you’ve got something.

Jacquin’s Postulate on Democratic Government:

No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while parliament is in session.

Churchill’s Commentary on Man:

Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick

himself up and continue on.

Haldane’s Law:

The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it’s queerer than we can


The Murphy Philosophy:

Smile…tomorrow will be worse.

Murphy’s Constant:

Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value.

Quantization Revision of Murphy’s Law:

Everything goes wrong at once.

O’Tooles Commentary on Murphy’s Law:

Murphy was an optimist.

Scotts First Law:

No matter what goes wrong, it will probably look right.

Scotts Second Law:

When an error has been detected and corrected, it will be found to have been

correct in the first place.

Finagle’s First Law:

If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.

Finagles Second Law:

No matter what the anticipated result, there will always be someone eager to

(a) misinterpret it,

(b) fake it, or

(c) believe it happened to his own pet theory.

Zymurgy’g First Law of Evolving Systems Dynamics:

Once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a larger


Murphy’s Law of Thermodynamics:

Things get worse under pressure.

Stockmayer’s Theorem:

If it looks easy, it’s tough. If it looks tough, it’s darn near impossible.

Etorre’s Observation:

The other line moves faster.

Osborne’s Law:

Variables won’t; constants aren’t.

Klipstein’s Law of Specification:

In specifications, Murphy’s Law supercedes Ohm’s.

Horner’s Five-Thumb Postulate:

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.

Cahn’s Axiom:

If all else fails, read the instructions.

Jenkinson’s Law:

It won’t work.

Young’s Law:

All great discoveries are made by mistake.

Corollary: The greater the funding, the longer it takes the mistake.

Hoare’s Law of Large Problems:

Inside every large problem is a small problem struggling to get out.

The Peter Principle:

In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence.


1. In time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompentent

   to carry out his duties.

2. Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level

   of incompetence.

Peter’s Rule For Creative Incompetence:

Create the impression that you have already reached your level of incompetence.

Truman’s Law:

If you can’t convince them, confuse them.

Wikers Law:

Government expands to absorb revenue and then some.

Ninety-Ninety Rule of Project Schedules:

The first ninety percent of the task takes ninety percent of the time, and the

last ten percent takes the other ninety percent.

Canada Bill Jones’s Motto:

It’s morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money.

Supplement: A Smith and Wesson beats four aces.

Captain Penny’s Law:

You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of

the time, but you can’t fool MUM.

Wilson’s Observation On Drivers:

There are two kinds of drivers: the impatient ones and the darned dawdlers!

Supplement: beware of drivers wearing hats or whose ears you can see.

can not successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to


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