A Conversation for Parkinson's Law

The second law

Post 1

FCL-BW

I believe that your explanation of the second law (the one regarding the time taken to decide on a capital project) is not completely true.

From my memory of Parkinson's works, the crucial factor here is not the sum of money involved but the complexity of the project. To explain:-
Imagine a commitee has to decide on two purchases-
1. An international space station, costing £100 billion
2. A new pencil sharpener for the office, costing £2.99.

Of the commitee members it is very likely that only one will actually be an expert in astronautics. It's quite possible that no-one is, and that half the people in the room will not actually know what a space station is, let alone how much it's meant to cost. Afraid of showing their ignorance, they will simply nod the proposal through.

In contrast, everyone in the commitee will know what a pencil sharpener looks like. Many hours will be spent discussing why the current one doesn't work properly, exchanging anecdotes regarding individual's experiences in the pencil-sharpening field, etc. Finally someone will say that he saw a perfectly good pencil sharpener in WH Smiths for £2.69, and the whole discussion will begin again.

A good summary of the second law is the manager's philosophy of "Anything I don't understand must be easy."


The second law

Post 2

C Hawke

I think we are both "right" as we are both working from memory, I lost my copy of the book sometime ago.

There are probably many other reasons, whatever the reason is it remains a sad truth.

Also I have been in meetings where say 6 or so people talk about how to spend a sum of money less than the cost of their time (and on-cost, which basically doubles the cost, for eg if I get paid £20 per hour the true cost to the business in £40).

ChawkE


The second law

Post 3

FCL-BW

You are so right!!

At the end of any meeting I am involved in, I make a point of multiplying the number of participants by the time by the hourly charging rate. It helps to announce at the end "Do you realise this meeting has just cost our company X,000 pounds?" (Of course, if the Big Boss is there, I may keep this thought to myself.)

By the way, I thought your article was excellent. I like your point that Parkinson's Law was originally intended to be a satire, but has now been accepted as a general management law.


The second law

Post 4

C Hawke

Many thanks,

Where I work we are realising the true cost. The usage of Video conferencing has helped. For a start as it is stll new tech we are asked to account for cost savings in using it - travel time and costs - also as we have to pre-book with a third party for the time, the meeting WILL end at the time stated, the plug gets pulled.

Also as it is still far from perfect, the meeting doesn't wander off course.

There still room for improvement though.

ChawkE


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The second law

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