Parkinson's laws: a summary

As you know, ignorance of the laws does not exempt from responsibility, but studying them helps make life easier, protects the business from unlawful outside interference, protects the family from unnecessary problems, and helps save money.

Moreover, we are talking not only about those laws that are spelled out in the constitution of a particular state, or the laws of physics, which, if used skillfully, can also be useful in the economy. Today we will talk about Parkinson’s laws.

Story

First, let’s get to know their author. Cyril Northcote Parkinson was born at the beginning of the last century in an English family. His parents were creative people: his mother gave music lessons, his father was a painter. And their son in his youth became interested in history. He graduated from Cambridge College, first received a master’s degree, and then a Ph.D. No wonder that Cyril Parkinson was a very observant person, he traveled a lot. He shared his observations with students at lectures both in his native England and abroad.

From 1950, for 8 years, he was a professor at the University of Malaya in Singapore. At the same time, he published his laws, collecting them in a book, which he called «Parkinson’s Laws». However, by this time, some of his countrymen had already managed to get acquainted with the works of Parkinson. Initially, the chapters of his future book were published in the British magazine The Economist. And there they were published in a satirical column.

A little time passed, and it became clear to everyone — this is not funny just because it really works.


Basic Laws


There was no more humor in Parkinson’s laws than completely serious judgments on the topic of the formation of bureaucracies, the organization of a successful business, the creation of a successful family. In the same place it was possible to obtain relevant information for everyone, namely: how to save on electricity, how to overpay taxes to the state. As a result, by the middle of the last century, Parkinson’s book became a real bestseller and still remains a reference book not only for the heads of large companies, high-ranking officials, but also for some housewives around the world.

In fact, the professor’s conclusions are universal for any sector of the economy and each social stratum of the population. In them, one can find arguments about the growth in the number of managers and the answer to the question why power and money literally go into someone’s hands, while others cannot succeed in any way. To understand that the book of an Englishman is a work for all time, it is enough to familiarize yourself with its summary. Among other things, the observant Briton even created the retirement age law. On a topic that became relevant for Russians in 2018, a scientist from Britain said that any worker begins to lose his grip 3 years before reaching retirement age, no matter what this age is. But let’s get acquainted with the observations that have become laws, in order.

The first

Cyril Parkinson formulated his first law as follows: the volume of any work will always increase in order to fill the time allotted for its implementation. Otherwise it sounds like this: work in any case will take all the time that is allocated to it. For example, if a student knows that his term paper should be ready by September, then in 99% of cases out of 100 he will finish it at best on August 31st. Although, if desired, I could do it much faster. But in the vast majority of cases, a person puts off until tomorrow what can be done today. The same applies to the conduct of work.

Well, what worker, knowing that his task must be completed by a certain date, will rush to complete it, unless, of course, he is promised a big bonus for this, or his name is not Stakhanov. The same applies to officials. But there the situation develops even more paradoxically. Their number is constantly growing, according to Parkinson’s observations, at least 5% per year. And this is not because they have more work to do, it’s just that in the bureaucratic apparatus they not only drag it to the last, but also try to shift part of it to someone else.


In addition, the Briton came to the conclusion that almost all those in power or who consider themselves to be in power certainly want to expand the staff of their subordinates. Agree, this is typical not only for officials from foggy Albion. Look at how our authorities operate.


Second


Parkinson’s second law speaks to our needs and abilities. According to the observation of the Englishman, the first never go separately from the second. That is The more a person earns, the more he spends. Expenses always rise as income increases. Hence the well-known postulate that there is never too much money. And this applies not only to the personal budget of everyone, but also to business planning. The same rule applies to the state treasury. The higher the standard of living of the population in a particular country, the higher the taxes there.

Often they increase in connection with the growing needs of the authorities. And this, we recall, was noticed even more than half a century ago.

Third

Parkinson’s Third Law reminds us to say «stop» sometimes. The Englishman, having studied the experience of different companies, great ancient civilizations, finally came to the conclusion that any development leads to complication and, as a result, “buries” what was created earlier.

You need to understand that the limit to perfection, contrary to popular belief, still exists. A rose cannot be more red than it was brought out by a talented breeder. And a horse cannot run faster than its capacity, even if it is led by the most excellent rider. Similarly, a person, having created something extraordinary, sooner or later must move on to creating something new, and not engage in constant improvement of something that does not cause any complaints anyway. In general, do not rub the rug to the holes.

The same goes for business. If your enterprise has turned from a small coffee shop into a respectable restaurant, do not try to turn it into a fashionable hotel. Since the beginning of your business, you have greatly increased worries. Remember how easy it was to manage a team of 10 people, and how hard it is for you now.


And yet taxes are constantly increasing, competitors are pressing, inspectors have overcome. Is this not enough for you? Do not ruin yourself and your successful business.


Mrs Parkinson


It is not surprising that such an outstanding husband of his Fatherland, and of the whole world, had a very outstanding wife. She also contributed to Parkinson’s human value system. Her feminine gaze, of course, was more directed towards household chores. And this is what she came to the conclusion: according to the law that Mrs. Parkinson deduced, the warmth that comes from one of the family members through his impeccable housekeeping constantly grows and overwhelms him. And he can share it only with those who are more cold-blooded in this sense.

Other observations

In addition to the above «basic» laws of Parkinson, he is also credited with other less ambitious, in essence, but no less relevant for each person, again, regardless of his social status, income level, religion, nationality, gender and age.

  • Delay Axiom. According to it, there is no more reliable and cunning form of refusal than a request to wait for the fulfillment of some request or demand. You don’t want or can’t do something, but you can’t say “no”, just say that you will do it a little later. How many times has your young man put off going to the registry office? He knows exactly how the delay axiom works.
  • law of a thousand. It says that any enterprise or company whose staff has reached 1000 people no longer needs outside help. You no longer need to invite a cleaning company or freelancers there. Such an organization becomes self-sufficient, it has everything and everything that is necessary for doing business.
  • telephone law. It appeared long before cellular communication became widespread and mobile handsets became not a luxury, but a means of communication. So, Parkinson’s phone law says: any telephone conversation is the more effective, the less time spent on it. Remember this when you prove to your colleague that he is wrong for the hundredth time over the phone. Maybe it’s easier to sit down and discuss everything, using illustrative examples as evidence, rather than screaming into the phone?
  • The law of scientific research. According to this law, which initially seems to be aimed at a narrow circle of citizens, successful scientific research is impossible without increased funding, which, in turn, makes it impossible to continue the study of anything indefinitely. The cash flow will inevitably dry up. But does it only work in scientific circles? See Parkinson’s third law above.
  • Law of information. It is not about a person or organization, but about technology, which, however, is already gradually becoming part of society, and in some cases, the family. If in the days of Parkinson cars gradually flooded everything, now we are all surrounded by cars with artificial intelligence. In some industries, they have already replaced humans. So, according to the law of information, an increase in its amount occurs in order to fill the entire memory of the carrier. And the need to increase the memory of these same media requires the creation of new ones.


And, as a result, the development of technology and the emergence of more and more advanced storage media. How long have you been asking Alice, who lives in your phone, how are you and her doing?


Practical use


It must be remembered that the author of the above laws himself was sure that everything he saw and recorded was not as scary, sad and bad as it seems initially. He considered the purpose of his research not to show humanity in what «unbearable» conditions it exists, but to make it think and rise above these very laws.

It is no coincidence that Parkinson expounded them in a playful, humorous form. That’s why smile and go through life not according to the above rules, but strictly contrary to them.

For example, stop spending everything you earn — you had enough some time ago and smaller amounts. Keep your needs under control, even if your capabilities have begun to greatly exceed them. Put the money you save on this into more rational needs.

Buy real estate, for example, and when your children grow up, you can immediately provide them with housing, and not go to the bank for a loan, which, of course, will lead to even more expenses.

In the meantime, rent an «idle» apartment for rent. Spend the funds received on the purchase of a house on the beach. Next time you will not have to spend money on hotel accommodation during your vacation, and the best paradise for meeting grandchildren in old age can hardly be imagined.

Do not delay paying off debts and loans — the sooner you rid yourself of this financial dependence, the faster your business will go uphill. Make a «stash». Some believe that it should be at least 20 percent of all income received. If you feel like this is too much, start putting aside a smaller portion of your earnings.

The financial «airbag» will be thinner, the main thing — it will be. But sleeping with a pillow is always more comfortable than without it.

It is up to everyone whether to follow the advice of the English philosopher or not. By the way, after retiring for 33 years, he lived in a cozy place on one of the Channel Islands. He wrote books, painted pictures and sailed. It might still be worth following his advice. And then, most likely, financial well-being, happiness in family life and all other benefits that you can only dream of as a sane and purposeful person await you.


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