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The Idea

Life is full of surprises. Not a week goes by that we don't find ourselves either saying this or being reminded of how true it is. In a sense a lot of the things we've talked about so far (Principle 2, “Know what you're trying to do,” Principle 3, “There is always a sequence of events,” and Principle 4, “Things don't get done if people don't do them”) have been about trying to reduce the likelihood of these surprises happening. Some of the main tools described, especially dance cards and strip boards, are about looking into the future and probing for surprises.

Despite your best efforts, however, there will always be surprises out there waiting. If you don't actively attack the risks on your project, says software authority Tom Gilb, the risks will actively attack you [1]. Sometimes I think we are like people walking through minefields. The tools already described give us partial maps of the minefield, but we know that these maps are partial and that unknown mines still lie there waiting for us.


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