Is Parkinson’s Law Alive and well in 2019

Sixty four years ago Professor Cyril Parkinson published in The Economist his findings into the apparent inefficiencies in the British Civil Service. His findings were summarised in what quickly became known as ‘Parkinson’s Law’ .

Parkinson’s Law was summed up by the phrase

“Work expands itself to fill the time available”.

Now I’m not going to get into the whole is it a real ‘Law’ debate but I think you will agree that it’s impact is still felt in work forces across the world.

So if you have a sneaky feeling that good old Parkinson’s Law is alive and well in your business then let me ask you a quick question.

Do you know what everybody that works for you actually does?

Not what you think they should be doing but what they are actually do.

Well of course you do!

They all have up to date job descriptions, don’t they?

Interestingly, if you don’t have up to date job description or indeed don’t have any job descriptions at all you are in good company because that applies to a high proportion of companies I speak to across the country.

So whether you have or don’t have job descriptions a great exercise is to get everyone to write out their own job description covering what they actually do and then comparing that with their actual job descriptions or what you think they should be doing.

It won’t take long

What are you going to find out?

Well, you may be astonished at the gap. The gap between what someone should be doing and what they actually do can be enormous. It’s not intention but is often the result of a slow drift over the years away from the original job description. Roles and tasks have been assumed and expanded.

Is this gap Parkinson’s Law in action?

Truthfully, I’ve no idea and it doesn’t really matter what we call it but the end result is the same, wasted time and effort. Everyone may be so, so busy doing the wrong things.

Aligning everyone’s efforts, drive and thoughts to what they should be doing for the business will quickly highlight waste and increase profits.

Sounds so simple, so obvious but it will help you get to your destination quicker, easier and less stressed.

Based on concepts covered in my book ‘Can Your Business Step Up to the Growth Challenge?‘ available in paperback, Kindle or audiobook.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.