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How to overcome Parkinson's Law

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses Parkinson's Law, which states that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. It explores why this phenomenon occurs and provides strategies for overcoming it, particularly in group projects.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] What is Parkinson's Law?

  • Parkinson's Law is the principle that work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
  • The term was coined by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in a 1955 essay, where he shared the story of a woman whose simple task of sending a postcard ended up taking up her entire day.
  • The article provides an updated example of a team having two weeks to complete a simple bug fix, but the project ends up expanding in scope to fill the allotted time.

[02] Why does work expand to fill the time available?

  • Procrastination is a key factor - knowing we have a set amount of time can inspire us to leave work until the last minute, causing the time required to expand.
  • There is also an optimal level of arousal that improves task performance, and the looming deadline provides a motivating "kick in the pants" to focus and complete the work.
  • In group settings, Parkinson's Law of Triviality and social loafing can also contribute to work expanding to fill the time available.

[03] How can you overcome Parkinson's Law?

  • Start early by planning an effective project kickoff to set expectations:

    • Clearly outline the vision and drivers for the project
    • Clarify roles and responsibilities using the DACI framework
    • Understand and agree on what's in and out of scope
    • Identify trade-offs upfront (e.g. timing, scope, budget)
    • Set a timeline last, after defining the other parameters
  • Breaking down the larger project into milestones and deadlines can create a greater sense of urgency and momentum.

  • Understanding trade-offs allows the team to make necessary adjustments if the work threatens to expand beyond the allotted time.

Shared by Daniel Chen ยท
ยฉ 2024 NewMotor Inc.