34 Mind Blowing Tom DeMarco Quotes

Tom Demarco is an American software engineer and author. He was an early developer of structured analysis in the 1970s. He has appeared in almost a dozen publications, author of nine books, and written more than 100 papers on project management and software development. Here is a look at some of the best Tom Demarco.

“Although your staff may be exposed to the message “work longer and harder” while they’re at the office, they’re getting a very different message at home.”

“Any vigorous competition will entail at least two elements: offense and defense. Offense is the effort you put into scoring against your opponents, and defense is the effort you apply to stop them from scoring against you.”

“As long as people tend to define themselves at least partially in terms of the work they do, any change to that work, its procedures and modes, is likely to have self-definitional importance to them. This can lead to surprising amounts of change resistance.”

“Good management is the lifeblood of the healthy corporate body. Getting rid of it to save cost is like losing weight by giving blood.”

“I’ve written about the giving of trust as though it were a simple formula for building loyalty.”

“In order to enable change, companies have to learn that keeping managers busy is a blunder. If you have busy managers working under you, they are an indictment of your vision and your capacity to transform that vision into reality. Cut them some slack.”


“In the best organizations, the short term is not the only thing that matters. What matters more is being best. And that’s a long-term concept.”

“Internal competition has the direct effect of making coaching difficult or impossible.””

“It’s easy (and fair) to blame lousy management on lousy managers. But it’s not enough. It’s also necessary to blame the people who allow themselves to be managed so badly.”

“It’s possible to make an organization more efficient without making it better. That’s what happens when you drive out slack.”

“Lack of power is a great excuse for failure, but sufficient power is never a necessary condition of leadership. There is never sufficient power. In fact, it is success in the absence of sufficient power that defines leadership.”

“Learning is limited by an organization’s ability to keep its people.”

“Managers who inspire extraordinary loyalty from their people tend to be highly charismatic, humorous, good-looking, and tall. So, by all means, strive to be those things.”

“Meaningful acts of leadership usually cause people to accept some short-term pain (extra cost or effort, delayed gratification) in order to increase the long-term benefit. We need leadership for this, because we all tend to be short-term thinkers.”

“On the best teams, different individuals provide occasional leadership, taking charge in areas where they have particular strengths. No one is the permanent leader, because that person would then cease to be a peer and the team interaction would begin to break down.”

“Overworked managers are doing things they shouldn’t be doing.”

“Ownership of the standard should be in the hands of those who do the work.”

“People under time pressure don’t think faster.”

“People who feel untrusted have little inclination to bond together into a cooperative team.”

“Productivity has to be defined as benefit divided by cost. The benefit is observed dollar savings and revenue from the work performed, and cost is the total cost, including replacement of any workers used up by the effort.”

“Reinvention takes place in the middle of the organization, so the first requisite is that there has to be a middle. I’ll assume your organization still has one.”

“Successful change can only come in the context of a clear understanding of what may never change, what the organization stands for.”

“The business we’re in is more sociological than technological, more dependent on workers’ abilities to communicate with each other than their abilities to communicate with machines.”

“The fundamental response to change is not logical, but emotional.”

“The manager’s function is not to make people work, but to make it possible for people to work.”

“The pathology of setting a deadline to the earliest articulable date essentially guarantees that the schedule will be missed.”

“The purpose of a team is not goal attainment but goal alignment.”

“The statistics about reading are particularly discouraging: The average software developer, for example, doesn’t own a single book on the subject of his or her work, and hasn’t ever read one.”

“Visual supervision is a joke for development workers. Visual supervision is for prisoners.”

“We don’t work overtime so much to get the work done on time as to shield ourselves from blame when the work inevitably doesn’t get done on time.”

“What I call bankruptcy of inventiveness is often the result of a failure to set aside the resources necessary to let invention happen. The principal resource needed for invention is slack. When companies can’t invent, it’s usually because their people are too damn busy.”

“What matters is helping all parties understand that the success of the individual is tied irrevocably to the success of the whole.”

“Whether you call it a “team” or an “ensemble” or a “harmonious work group” is not what matters; what matters is helping all parties understand that the success of the individual is tied irrevocably to the success of the whole.”

“Work gets done on the basis of its urgency alone.”

Here is a look at Tom Demarco as he wraps up summer at Cutter Consortium.

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