Embracing Change – quotable quotes on change and uncertainty

This content is syndicated from Brad Appleton's ACME Blog by Brad Appleton. To view the original post in full, click here.

Every now and then I come across a good quote about embracing the fact that change and uncertainty are an essential inherent reality of software development. Here are the ones I like so far. Do you have another one you like? If so, leave a comment and share it with me.

    It’s inevitable that requirements will change. Business needs evolve, new users or markets are identified, business rules and government regulations are revised, and operating environments change over time. In addition, the business need becomes clearer as the key stakeholders become better educated about what their true needs are.
    -- Karl Wiegers, Cosmic Truths about Software Requirements
    The growing unpredictability of the future is one of the most challenging aspects of the new economy:
    • Turbulence—in both business and technology—causes change, which can be viewed either as a threat to be guarded against or as an opportunity to be embraced.
    • Rather than resist change, the agile approach strives to accommodate it as easily and efficiently as possible, while maintaining an awareness of its consequences.
    Facilitating change is more effective than attempting to prevent it.
    • Learn to trust in your ability to respond to unpredictable events; it's more important than trusting in your ability to plan for disaster.
    • Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
    -- Martin Fowler and James Highsmith, On the Agile Manifesto
    Orders must change rapidly in response to change in circumstances. If one sticks to the idea that once set, a plan should not be changed, a business cannot exist for long.
    -- Taiichi Ohno, Toyota Production System

    It’s not the strongest who survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most adaptable to change.
    -- attributed to Charles Darwin
    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
    -- Voltaire
    It is not necessary to change; survival is not mandatory.
    -- W. Edwards Deming
    When the rate of change outside exceeds the rate of change inside, the end is in sight.
    -- Jack Welch
    The Futility of Fighting Change: Requirements, technologies, teams, priorities, companies, usage, users, everything will change. There are things you cannot know until you know them. Give up. Change is inevitable. Our process must be a process, therefore, of change.
    -- Scott L. Bain The Nature of Software Development, May 2008
    Uncertainty is inherent and inevitable in software development processes and products.
    -- H. Ziv and D.J. Richardson, The Uncertainty Principle in Software Engineering, Aug 1996
    It will be important to organize future projects with enough agility to be able to adapt to the additional emergence of new sources of unpredictable change.
    -- Barry Boehm, Making a Difference in the Software Industry, March 2008
    • When we program, we transform a poorly understood problem into a precise set of instructions that can be executed by a computer.
    • When we think we understand a program?s requirements, we are invariably wrong.
    • When we do not completely understand a problem, we must research it until we know that we understand it.
    • Only when we truly understand a problem can we develop a superior product to address that problem.
    • What the users think they want will change as soon as they see what we develop.
    -- Watts Humphrey, Some Programming Principles--Requirements, January 2003
    There is a very fancy technical term biologists use to describe completely stable systems. This highly sophisticated technical term is the word “DEAD!” Change is not the enemy – stagnation is!
    -- from The Unchangeable Rules of Software Change
    Requirements changes late in the lifecycle are competitive advantage, IF you can act on them!
    -- Mary Poppendieck
    Becoming agile means accepting uncertainty about the future as a way of dealing with the future. Any project development effort should be a balance between anticipation (planning based on what we know now) and adaptation (responding to what we learn over time).
    -- James Highsmith, Embrace Uncertainty
    Scrum’s Uncertainty Principle is: Customers don’t know what they want until they see it, and they always reserve the right to change their mind.
    -- Jeff Sutherland, Emergence of Essential Systems
    Systems requirements cannot ever be stated fully in advance, not even in principle, because the user doesn’t know them in advance--not even in principle.

    To assert otherwise is to ignore the fact that the development process itself changes the user’s perceptions of what is possible, increases his or her insights into the applications environment, and indeed often changes that environment itself.

    We suggest an analogy with the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: any system development activity inevitably changes the environment out of which the need for the system arose. System development methodology must take into account that the user, and his or her needs and environment, change during the process.
    -- Dan McCracken and Michael A. Jackson, ACM SIGSoft, 1982
Is your favorite quote about software change/uncertainty missing from the above? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

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