Humans are made up of many societies and cultures, but we’re all governed by common laws, some of which affect everyone. There’s the law of gravity. We’re all affected by gravity.
There are consequences for breaking some laws. For example, traffic laws. Drive your car too fast and you could end up in an accident, receive a speeding ticket, even lose your license to drive.
Laws, whether we keep them or not, govern our lives in ways we cannot always comprehend.
Take Murphy’s Law. “Whatever can go wrong, will.” Remarkably, no matter how much we prepare for a negative eventuality, no matter how prepared we are for a disaster, when it finally arrives it will be different than what we prepared for.
One of my favorite laws is Parkinson’s Law. “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” The brief version is, “work expands to fill the time available.”
It’s difficult to argue with the obvious. It’s a natural law that governs all humans, regardless of station in life. A one hour project will take two hours if two hours are available to complete the project.
While the actual law itself stems from the first existence of humans with less to do than the time allotted, C. Northcote Parkinson was the first to articulate the law in London, UK in 1955.
Data expands to fill the space available for it. Does that sound like your computer? Parkinson came up with that long before a personal computer was used to store music, photos, movies, addresses, and email.
Parkinson was an astute observer of human life. He figured out that a bureaucracy expanded employees by five percent per year “irrespective of any variation in the amount of work to be done.”
As an executive in business, I preached “accomplishment vs. activity.” The former is good and measurable, the latter just fills up time. Unfortunately, tracking and measuring accomplishment by employees is a tedious effort for most managers, so they determine accomplishment based on a view of activities.
They are not the same.
Another law is that people don’t like change. Generally speaking, we’re creatures of comfort. Change is not a bad thing, says Jerry Riskin who writes about Law Seven.
“Turn a spotlight on your initiative and leave it on.”
I love it.