Monday, March 06, 2006

Parkinson: Other laws - the perfect building for a company.

You're probably familiar with Parkinson's Law: "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."
Northcote Parkinson, an astute observer of human nature (and something of a reactionary) formulated many other laws as well, and some of these deserve better rememberance. My favorite is this one (I'm paraphrasing):
When a company or other organization is finally able to plan and build the perfect building for itself, the building best suited to its needs, that organization is in the throes of petrification and death.
Parkinson observed that a vital organzation is always working in makeshift quarters, cramped spaces, making do, and splitting up into multiple sites to handle its overflow of employees. The dying organization has time to plan, and perhaps a static target to plan for. Beware of that perfect building. (I've worked for three companies that followed this law faithfully; the third time, it was easy to see that the company was obeying this Parkinson law.)

9 comments:

PacRim Jim said...

Hence the deadline.

Anonymous said...

Also, when the CEO is diverted from the actual business of the company to work closely with the architects, you generally get a slump in the effectiveness of the business -- which has been referred to as "The Edifice Complex".

SWWBO said...

I have seen this happen three times. Birch Telecom, Sprint and Cerner - the only company that is still doing well is Cerner,but that is only because of Obamacare.

Anonymous said...

MOTOROLA!! 1M SF sitting unoccupied in the middle of nowhere.

Jonathan said...

Borland.

Anonymous said...

Sun micro nearly finished their new campus in Newark a year or two before they were forced to sell themselves.

Anonymous said...

As Jonathan said, Borland suffered from this, way back in the 90s. Phillipe Kahn was rumored to have said, "make it better than Microsoft's". They plummeted soon.

tom swift said...

Ah yes, "Parkinson's Law" - one of the many good things to come out of 1957. It's one of the most useful books on my Management shelf. Noto bene - the paperback edition leaves out a number of particularly good laws, even though it doesn't say "abridged" anywhere on it. Get the Houghton Mifflin hardcover.

LAG said...

Solyndra.