Galton's Guide
to Life
Project Management

Presented to Eugene B. Galton
by his collegues at the
MIT Center for Space Research
to acknowledge over a dozen years
of wonderful work and friendship,
1989 - 2003.

Project Management

"I tolerate aberations in good performers."
"If we have to make a change to the design, you can be sure that they [other sub-contractors] will back up the Brinks truck."
"Whenever N people are in a room the problem is with the N+1st person." Gene tells the story of progressively calling more engineers into his office as the 'problem' was always with someone not in the office - "Well, then, get them in here too."
GIGO ("Guy-Go") = Garbage in, garbage out
Relevant to being contracted to do something that you think is dumb... The MIT response is "MIT won't do anything dumb" [not even if paid.] The corporate response was "Are we more patriotic than the U.S. government?" [i.e., if they want to pay to have it done who are we to say no?]
"They've got a whole building of green eye shaders there with nothing better to do than find a mistake in your proposal."
"They're a mafia ..."
It's like getting a noodle through a straw: to get something done "there's got to be a blower on one end and a sucker on the other."
"Better is the emeny of Good Enough." Russian Navy Admiral
"You're already seeing the wastefulness of travel... It is essential sometimes like Quarterly Progress Reports."
"Go into negociations with your hands clean. ... Whatever you say has to be 100% right; even if it's 99.9% correct they'll home in on the 0.1% and get you."
There are only three things that count (the three S's): $ (dollars), schedule, and scope.
"Unk-Unks" : unknown unknows - an engineering $ placeholder for surprises between design and prototype.
"We've got honey pots all over the place..."
"He's at a level where he's not evaluating the proposal, he's evaluating the proposer": Gene, as Technical Manager on a proposal, was drilled on a tiny matter by a Vice President at the meeting to have the proposal approved. The train of questions finally ended with Gene saying: "No, I didn't do that, not enough time". After the grilling he was told by a third party "He's [the VP] at a level where he's not evaluating the proposal, he's evaluating the proposer. He wanted to see if you'd fabricate information."
"It's easier to grow an organization than shrink one."
"I've heard a lot hogwash presentations..."
The Test of a Manager: Being able to get a program completed sucessfully using a team of people with a variety of skill levels, i.e., not all super stars.
The story of the Sonar Buoys: salt plugs for battery power and delayed action ones to sink after 30 days: the holes were plugged up by over-zealous worker and 5000 were delievered. Whole company called together and Boss announced "I'm bullshit and I don't know who to fire - maybe all of you."
Large meetings are useful for information exchange and status but program decisions are made by one person often sending a draft to others for devils-advocate comments.
"My role is to clear the decks so you can do what needs to be done."
"There is no accomplishment in an organized mediocrity; better to have sloppy excellence."
"Plan for the worst and hope for the best."

L i f e

"Ask not for whom the bell tolls..."
"We're in deep yogurt"
To the son whose parents want a grandchild: "Not your problem."
Never put something into writing that couldn't show up on the front page of the New York Times.
"You have to decide if you're fighting to win or fighting to get hurt."
I'd prefer to see guys in Government who have some experience in the world, some previous career. Wilson was President of Princeton...
"To make a long story short..."
"I hope someone is working to save the green on this planet."
"A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still."
"A useless task: arranging the deck chairs on the titanic. Well, some people might like it."
"The truth is easy to remember."
"Sam Sneed story: 'I find the more I practice the luckier I get.' "
Attending daughters highschool awards: daughter asks: "Daddy are you proud of me?" "I knew something was off but bit my lip and said 'I sure am. But most of all I hope you're proud of yourself.' "
"Daddy, what is a gentleman?" "You know you've been out with a gentleman when you get home and feel like a lady."
Talking with Halle (grand-daughter 5.5 years old) she asks "What is War?" and their discussion ends with Halle saying: "That's the silliest thing I've ever heard."

Copyright 2003

Better is the Enemy
of Good Enough Press
Cambridge, MA, 02139

Disclaimer: These quotes were largely collected during the
busy days of HETG design and construction in the 1990's and their
accuracy cannot be fully confirmed... Hey, I'm just trying to get
a "Gentleman's C" here as Gene would say! -dd