31 August 2019

Parkinson's law: you can beat it

Project managementPersonnel Management
Original author: @dailenkov
“Work fills the time allotted to it.”
Parkinson's law

If you are not a British official of the 1958 model, do not follow this law. No work is required to occupy all the time allotted to it.

A few words about the law

Cyril Northcote Parkinson is a British historian and a brilliant satirist. An essay published on November 19, 1955 in The Economist magazine begins with a quote that is so often seriously called law.

The essay is not related either to project management or to management in general. This is a biting satire that makes fun of the state apparatus, which has been swelling for decades and does not become a bit more effective.

Parkinson explains the existence of the law by the action of two factors:

The official wants to deal with subordinates, not rivals
Officials create work for each other

I highly recommend reading the essay itself, and in a nutshell it looks like this:

An official who considers himself overloaded, hires two subordinates to do his job. He cannot share it with his working colleagues or hire one subordinate and share with him — nobody needs rivals. The story repeats further, its employees hire employees for themselves. And now 7 people are doing the work of one. All are very busy, but neither the speed of work, nor its quality is increasing.

Perhaps this situation is familiar to you, but there are many other reasons why the work fills all the time to the deadline and a little more.
How to avoid this:

1. Do not think for everyone
Do not expect someone to show respect if you do not show it yourself. If you want the team to be responsive to the deadlines and to the work as a whole — try to get a real comment, and not forced consent.

2. Do not set the deadline “yesterday”
First of all, it annoys everyone, and you don’t want to work among psychopaths. Secondly, it is impossible to catch “yesterday”, which means that the deadlines will be missed. They will fall off once, the second. And what will you do? Will you fire everyone? Hardly. And if nothing happens after that, then what? Why try to be on time? Maniana.

3. Do not try to achieve 100% load
For 100% load (actually not), we came up with cars, and a person needs to relax. And also develop and wipe the dust from the keyboard. Why rush to complete the task ahead of schedule if a new one arrives immediately? Then there’s definitely no time for anything.

4. Do not pretend that after the deadline, the end of the world
Firstly, this is not so, and see point 2. Secondly, no one wants to get a hat, and everyone lays a hedge. The problem is that the delays will still add up, but the lead is not. Eliyahu Goldratt wrote well about this in the book “It's Not Luck”.

5. No need to fix everything
No need to draw a mythical triangle of limitations and try to squeeze your project into it. If you want to get the Sagrada Familia, be prepared to wait a hundred years. If you need by Thursday, be flexible.

6. Do not encourage multitasking
. Firstly, it is not productive. Secondly, everyone solves his optimization problem. And getting 2 new errands instead of sitting on one ready does not look like a good idea.

7. Do not pull with the appliance.
Seriously. It takes 2 days to work, and then another 2 weeks to wait until the manager / customer looks and gives corrections. And then we wonder why everyone is pulled to the deadline.

8. Avoid the big bang.
Do not pull with one big delivery, work incrementally. It’s not a fact that the work will be done faster, but at least you can use something without waiting for months.

9. Do not inflate the team
If you do not want to be like British officials :)
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