What is Parkinson's law?

Parkinson’s law is a very common adage that states, “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” This can be seen in action in many different workplace environments. If someone has to work 8 hours per day, it will take them 8 hours each day to complete their work. If they take a day of vacation, however, they will still be able to complete all the work that was required of them using just the 4 days rather than 5.

Fighting Parkinson’s Law

As a company it is important to always be fighting against Parkinson’s law or the amount of waste is going to grow significantly. Many different strategies can be put in place to help combat this law, including the following:

  • Make Strict Deadlines – Making strict deadlines, yet achievable will help ensure productive work is being done all the time.
  • Incentivize Desired Accomplishments – If a company incentivizes employees to achieve desired goals, the employees are more likely to spend their time doing the actual important work that is expected of them.
  • Monitor Progress – Always monitor the effort that is being put out for the business. When waste is found, take steps to eliminate it. Using strategies like Gemba Walks is a great way to minimize the amount of wasted time and effort in a facility.
  • Standardize Processes – Find the best possible ways to accomplish specific tasks and then standardize the process across all shifts. Employees should not be able to do things their way if it is not as efficient.

It is important to remember that a company can never stop working against Parkinson’s law. As soon as management stops worrying about this type of waste, it will immediately begin creeping back into the environment. This adage is known throughout every industry and appears to be universally true. Putting in the effort to combat it is essential for creating and maintaining an efficient work environment.


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