Parkinson’s Law or the Pursuit of Progress (some notes)

Finally I bought this book. It took me some research till to find it. Alcalá del Olmo (Cervantes 10 in Madrid) had it: fourth impression from April 1958.

To remind it, I try to summarize what I have annotated in a paper chapter by chapter.

1.- Parkinson’s law or the rising pyramid,

  • “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
  • “It is the busiest man who has time to spare”.
  • Review the % of people/time you have invested on management. This type of activities tends to expand.

2.- The short list or the principles of selection,

  • Revision of selection methods: british (use of interviews and family origin of the applicant) and chinese (written exams) methods.
  • It also comments some tips for the publication of a vacancy.

3.- Directors nd councils or coefficient of inefficiency,

  • “…The most elementary principle of the life uycle of a committee is that it is organic than mechanical in its nature… it is not a structure but a plant…”
  • How committees are build, how they grow, how they loose the power with respect the number of members increase, how with this increase decisions are taken beforehand, how the cycle starts again.

4.- The will of the people or annual general meeting,

  • Differences between English and French parliamentary system.
  • English: 2 oppositing sides. This system depends entirely on its seating plan.
  • French: Semi-circle seats. How decisions and agreements are reached in the backwards taking into account the place the people are seated.
  • Strenghts and weakenesses of each one.

5.- Personality Screen or the cocktail formula,

Understanding the behaviour of the people the cocktails, the position they place in the room, the time they arrive, the way they move, the time they leave the cocktail…

6.-High Finance or the point of vanishing interest,

Law of triviality, time spent on any item of the agenda will be inverse proportion to the sum involved.

7.- Palm thatch to packard or a formula for success,

  • A review of the behaviour of an occidental an asian business man since he is a regular business man (he thatch with his palm) till he becomes a successfull business man (he drives a Packard).
  • Comments about how to manage tax payments.

8.- Plans and plants or the administrative block,

It reviews some administrative obstacles you can find in the institutions, how the schedule of the buildings construction have had constant delays accross centuries, and how new institutions coming into existence with new directors, new buildings, new responsibilities… are sentenced to die.

9.-Injelities or palsied paralysis,

  • Injelities is defined as a desease composed basically by imcompetence and jealousy. people who work in an organization with this desease provokes somethings that can affect the organization dramatically.
  • Different behaviours about this scenarios are explained.
  • Study about different status in an organization that suffers injelities, how to understand it and how to try to cure it.
  • This chapter is for me one of the best ones.

10.- Pension point or the age of retirement,

  • A review of the different scenarios people who is close to the retirement face. How to manage it and how to force them to retire.
  • Probably we are very profitable for our organizations in one period of time, but it’s also necessary to know when to retire.

(Cyril Northcote Parkinson)

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