Episode 85 — Unwritten Rules

unwrittenAdam, Brian, Carmen, and Jeff discuss the values and ideals that often guide engineering decision making, even if these policies are rarely written down or mentioned in academic settings.

  • Brian finds that Dilbert cartoons help him develop a “befuddlement with life and others.”
  • Scott Adam’s book, Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook, provides guidance on how to appear technically proficient, even when one is not.
  • W.J. King wrote the original version of “The Unwritten Laws of Engineering” back in 1944.
  • King’s Rule #1: However menial and trivial your early assignments may appear, give them your best efforts.
  • King’s Rule #3: In carrying out a project do not wait for foremen, vendors, and others to deliver the goods; go after them and keep everlastingly after them.
  • Adam makes reference to the “rule of pi,” which was introduced in Episode 1. This maxim suggests new projects will take about pi times longer to complete than first anticipated.
  • King’s Rule #6: Avoid the very appearance of vacillation. (Is this still valid in 2015?)
  • King’s Rule #15: Whatever the boss wants done takes top priority.
  • The Unwritten Laws of Systems Engineering” was authored by David F. McClinton half a century later, in 1994.
  • McClinton’s Rule #1: Everything interacts with everything else.
  • McClinton’s Rule #2: Everything goes somewhere.
  • Brian makes a joke about “chazzwazzas” that confuses his co-hosts.
  • McClinton’s Rule #3: There is no such thing as a free lunch.
  • McClinton’s Rule #4: Never confuse change with progress.
  • Carmen has fond memories of his JNCO jeans.
  • McClinton’s Rule #10: There is no shelf.
  • Brian wondered if the prior rule had some connection to the Matrix movie line, “There is no spoon.”
  • McClinton’s Rule #14: Nothing is impossible to the man who doesn’t have to do it.
  • McClinton’s Rule #16: Any analysis will be believed by no one but the analyst who conducted it. Any test will be believed by every one but the person who conducted it.
  • McClinton’s Rule #21: Never use a word chart when a picture chart will do.
  • McClinton’s Rule #22: Never go in with the first wave.
  • McClinton’s Rule #23: Never go in with the second wave either.
  • McClinton’s Rule #24: Have the heart of a child but keep it in a jar on your
  • Jeff references the book, “Thick Face, Black Heart: The Warrior Philosophy for Conquering the Challenges of Business and Life.”

Thanks to Kate Hiscock for use of the image titled “an open book.” Podcast theme music by Paul Stevenson.