In life, we all reach the same end, so we need to concentrate on the trip.  Devote yourself to excellence, and you just might achieve it. That would be worth the trip.

 

— Watts Humphrey, in the conclusion of his book A Discipline for Software Engineering

Saturday was Watts Humphrey’s birthday.  Watts was one of my mentors. He had a very positive impact on my work and my life.  I had the pleasure of working, running, and having fun with Watts for about 15 years.

The following are three of the many important lessons I learned from Watts.

  • We should treat every project as a way to build talent rather than treating our talent as a way to build projects.
  • The constancy of purpose is one of the most important keys to achieving our goals.
  • We should give people the opportunity to excel. They will often surprise us with how well they can do.

I learned these lessons by watching him and having the pleasure of working with him.  He truly consistently practiced all of these tenets. Watts did achieve his journey of constantly working towards excellence. I miss him. I am frequently reminded of him and his lessons, especially on his birthday.

If you have three minutes, here is a video I made for Watts as a gift for his 80th birthday.

It is full of people who worked with and learned from Watts. This is just a small subset of those he influenced. 

Reach out and thank one of your mentors today.

  1. List item number one goes here
  2. List item number two or the second can go right here just after list item number one
  3. I guess this one must be the third item because here it is just after the second one
  4. And so on with items in this ordered list!
  • List item number one goes here
  • List item number two or the second can go right here just after list item number one
  • I guess this one must be the third item because here it is just after the second one
  • And so on with items in this ordered list!
They find it hard to believe that is possible to deliver defect-free software to customers.  And I am telling them our goal is to deliver near defect-free software to test. I am also working to help them understand that doing work in this was does not sacrifice speed. It is actually faster.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,


Alan Willett

The picture is Watts showing us his National Medal of Technology awarded by President George W. Bush 

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