Swipe File #21: Parkinson's law of triviality

Hey All,

Keeping it short and sweet this week. Enjoy, and if you're feeling inspired, pass it on.

Why we're doing things that don't scale via @jasonfried

You've likely already read Paul Graham's great Do Things That Don't Scale. This is Jason Fried's answer to that post. And though it's a few years old, it's stood the test of time nicely.

There’s no question that automation is enticing – especially for software companies. No one disputes it’s easier to scale your business when you have machines doing the work.

But automation can also lead to myopia. And premature-automation can lead to blindness. When you take human interaction out of a system, you’re removing key opportunities to see what really happens along the way. You miss stories, experiences, and struggles – and that’s often where the real insights are hiding.

Parkinson's law of triviality

The law, which states that "the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum [of money] involved," was coined when C. Northcote Parkinson observed a committee tasked with approving a nuclear power plant waste their time debating what color a bikeshed should be painted.

The concept of "bikeshedding" — extensive debate on trivial matters — has become common parlance in the open source world. This is an important concept for all of us, particularly managers, to learn about.

The Chokehold of Calendars via @monteiro

Some interesting thoughts on time management from designer, artist, entrepreneur and author Mike Monteiro.

The problem with calendars is that they are additive rather than subtractive. They approach your time as something to add to rather than subtract from. Adding a meeting is innocuous. You’re acting on a calendar. A calendar isn’t a person. It isn’t even a thing. It’s an abstraction. But subtracting an hour from the life of another human being isn’t to be taken lightly. It’s almost violent. It’s certainly invasive. Shared calendars are vessels you fill by taking things away from other people.

“I’m adding a meeting” should really be “I’m subtracting an hour from your life.”

Have a great week!


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