I'd like some web or list of well-known laws of project management.

Examples: Pareto Principle, Law of 90%, Parkinson Law, etc.

Some days ago I read about one that say something like: "If you study how some group of people react to a certain thing that promises to perform better, they will surely perform better independently of the real 'cause'".

But I can't find the name. There's another of "The more expectation you give a person, the performance output it's gonna be better".

I'd like to have a more organized list of this "Laws". Any help will be appreciated.

  • 1
    Hi, and welcome to Project Management Stack Exchange, the Q&A site for project managers. Questions that you ask here should generally be about a specific problem that you are facing. This question doesn't inspire answers that solve a specific problem that you are facing, and I'm not sure if it's on-topic here as per our FAQ. Lists and poll questions are, in general, off-topic. Is there a way you can possibly edit your question to include the problem you are facing? Thanks, and welcome to the Stack Exchange network!
    – jmort253
    May 7, 2011 at 6:32
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    The list could be staggeringly large and some of these are tenuous at best. Jan 26, 2019 at 18:22

2 Answers 2


My favorite is a list of 14 management rules developed by Skunk Work's Kelly Johnson. Many of them are particular to aerospace and defense work--and several don't have any obvious parallels in software-only projects, but the overall theme of these guidelines is timeless. I've bolded what I think are the most widely applicable statements.

  1. The Skunk Works manager must be delegated practically complete control of his program in all aspects. He should report to a division president or higher.
  2. Strong but small project offices must be provided both by the military and industry.
  3. The number of people having any connection with the project must be restricted in an almost vicious manner. Use a small number of good people (10% to 25% compared to the so-called normal systems).
  4. A very simple drawing and drawing release system with great flexibility for making changes must be provided.
  5. There must be a minimum number of reports required, but important work must be recorded thoroughly.
  6. There must be a monthly cost review covering not only what has been spent and committed but also projected costs to the conclusion of the program.
  7. The contractor must be delegated and must assume more than normal responsibility to get good vendor bids for subcontract on the project. Commercial bid procedures are very often better than military ones.
  8. The inspection system as currently used by the Skunk Works, which has been approved by both the Air Force and Navy, meets the intent of existing military requirements and should be used on new projects. Push more basic inspection responsibility back to subcontractors and vendors. Don't duplicate so much inspection.
  9. The contractor must be delegated the authority to test his final product in flight. He can and must test it in the initial stages. If he doesn't, he rapidly loses his competency to design other vehicles.
  10. The specifications applying to the hardware must be agreed to well in advance of contracting. The Skunk Works practice of having a specification section stating clearly which important military specification items will not knowingly be complied with and reasons therefore is highly recommended.
  11. Funding a program must be timely so that the contractor doesn't have to keep running to the bank to support government projects.
  12. There must be mutual trust between the military project organization and the contractor, the very close cooperation and liaison on a day-to-day basis. This cuts down misunderstanding and correspondence to an absolute minimum.
  13. Access by outsiders to the project and its personnel must be strictly controlled by appropriate security measures.
  14. Because only a few people will be used in engineering and most other areas, ways must be provided to reward good performance by pay not based on the number of personnel supervised.
  • These rules are worth emulating based on the output of the Skunk Works. Item 3 is a key one "Use a small number of good people". The good here means capable and dedicated. They were smart and worked very long and hard hours. They needed a strong belief in the mission to make that commitment.
    – Steve Roe
    May 7, 2011 at 22:47

The second "law" you mentioned

"If you study how some group of people react to a certain thing that promises to perform better, they will surely perform better independently of the real 'cause'".

is called the Hawthorne effect.




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    BTW, the Hawthorne effect is not permanent. When you are experimenting with a change to improve performance, you need to continue the change for a period in time to allow for this effect to diminish, then measure the true change. May 7, 2011 at 12:58
  • Ha, so simple it's brilliant. May 10, 2011 at 14:18
  • You may have the second one confused a bit. There is a theory called Expectancy Theory, which states that effort and performance, i.e., motivation, are improved if the worker "expects" greater rewards for his effort and believes his efforts will achieve better results. It is a combination of value (what is in it for me), belief that my actions will achieve an outcome, and belief that I can perform those actions. May 10, 2011 at 14:19

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