Parkinson's Law

Parkinson's Law is a law attributed to its creator, C. Northcote Parkinson, a naval historian and author of almost 60 books. Parkinson documented his law in his books Parkinson's Law, Mrs. Parkinson's Law, and other studies in domestic science. The law states that "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion."

Parkinson's Law of Meetings

Parkinson's Law of Meetings states that "To a certain degree, the time spent in a meeting on an item is inversely proportional to its value".

To gain a better understanding of this principle, consider a typical meeting for middle management; they have two issues to discuss with one being a parking lot and the other a more complex issue on how to power their company using wind energy. First, they put the car park issue on the table and, because everyone present knows something about a car park (including design, cost, location, etc.), the meeting drags on and on. However, when the issue about powering the company using wind energy is tabled, no one seems to say anything, because they hardly know a thing about it. Perhaps one or two have heard about it, but they are not very sure, so they say nothing. Nevertheless, it's expected that they all know installing a wind farm is far more expensive than building a car park, but nothing else.

Based on that analogy, you can see that they spent much more time in the meeting discussing the car park, which they find more valuable for their immediate needs, than the wind farm, which they find less valuable to their immediate needs.

Other Laws Attributed to Parkinson's Law

In addition to the Parkinson's Law described above, C. Northcote Parkinson and other interested parties were also able to develop additional laws related to other fields of life, including:

  1. Parkinson's First Law ‐ states that "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion."
  2. Parkinson's Second Law: ‐ "Expenditures or "money paid" out rises to meet income."
  3. Parkinson's Third Law: ‐ "Expansion means complexity, and complexity decay."
  4. Parkinson's Fourth Law: ‐ "The number of people in any working group tends to increase irrespective of the amount of work to be completed."
  5. Parkinson's Fifth Law: ‐ "If there is a way to delay an important decision, the good bureaucracy (or non-elected government officials), public or private, will find it."
  6. Parkinson's Law of Science: ‐ "The progress of science varies and is inversely proportional to the number of journals published."
  7. Parkinson's Law of Delay: ‐ "Delay or procrastination is the deadliest form of denial."
  8. Parkinson's Law of Data: ‐ "Data expands continuously to fill the space available for it."
  9. Parkinson's Law of 1000: ‐ "An enterprise employing more than 1000 people becomes a self-perpetuating empire, creating so much internal work that it no longer needs any contact with the outside world."
  10. Mrs. Parkinson's Law: ‐ "Heat produced by pressure expands to fill the mind available, from which it can pass only to a cooler mind."
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