Books: The book that shook

Books: The book that shook - 'I first read Parkinson's Law when studying for Economics A-level. Many of the laws are just as relevant today as they were then. They include: how to 'manage' a meeting, and how time spent in meetings is inversely proportiona

by IAIN HERBERTSON
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

'I first read Parkinson's Law when studying for Economics A-level. Many of the laws are just as relevant today as they were then. They include: how to 'manage' a meeting, and how time spent in meetings is inversely proportional to the importance of each issue - his example is a short discussion on a pounds 10 million power plant followed by lengthy debate over a pounds 350 bicycle shed. Ever been there?

The beauty of Cecil Northcote Parkinson is that it is all done with such humour. Parkinson's most famous law is that 'work expands to fill the time available - as we all make work for one another'. This is still true today. I don't know anyone who complains of receiving too little e-mail!

In many organisations, the focus on productivity from software remains low, although the performance improvement between 'basic' and 'advanced' skills is often over 60%. One way to address this is to define a minimum skill level for each piece of software for every role. If every organisation can 'upskill' in these areas, we may yet make Parkinson turn in his grave!'

Iain Herbertson is managing director of Manpower, sponsor of the Work Zone at the Millennium Dome.

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