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Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams by Mickey W. Mantle, Ron Lichty

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Rules of Thumb and Nuggets of Wisdom

We all manage by using rules of thumb. Sometimes we create them ourselves—we have some hard experience that teaches a big lesson, from our having squeezed through it, or perhaps because we failed to. Sometimes the lesson comes to us already fully formed, and so succinct we can communicate it in a phrase or a sentence. Other times we struggle to boil complexity down to its pith.

Benjamin Franklin collected and published one of the first well-known sets of maxims, proverbs, and rules of thumb in Poor Richard’s Almanack.1 Around the same time, in 1732, Thomas Fuller published his own book of proverbs that included the ubiquitous “A stitch in time saves nine,” a rule of thumb for much of life.

Rules of thumb we ...

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