Friday, January 30, 2009

505 The Corollary

505 The Corollary 

"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." -- C. Northcote Parkinson.

"Work expands so as to occupy all the people available to do it." -- W. Richards.

The first quote is pretty well known.  Parkinson got a lot of mileage out of that one liner, the lead in an essay wrote for "The Economist," the British magazine more than 50 years ago.  And it's as true today as it was then.  It's called "Parkinson's Law."  

Time changes some things, but not others.  It has not changed the validity of Parkinson's Law.  But much has happened in the intervening years, leading to the Richards Corollary.

Companies are canning people faster than Del Monte cans corn.  This has profound effects on the lives of the canned, but for the rest of us, it doesn't mean much.  And this leads to a question previously asked in this space:  What did all of those people DO?  And, for that matter, "who's doing it now?"  The answer to the first question is kind of like figuring out every digit in Pi.  There may be an answer, though improbable.  But chances are we'll never know it.  The answer to the second question is either (a) others have picked up parts of the slack (which they will tell you about emphatically if you ask them, and maybe even if you don't,) or (b) no one.

If the answer is no one, then why'd they hire the canned in the first place?

Let's look at some of the companies recently infamous for job cuts.  

There's Home Depot.  It used to be hard to find someone to help you.  Is it any harder today?  No.

How about AT&T?  Is your dial tone any slower?  Are there fewer bars on your mobile phone?  Does it take any more time to reach a live operator or "customer service" specialist?

Even mighty Microsoft is lopping off 5,000 heads.  You can't get through to them now; you won't notice a difference the next time you try.

Companies hire people and then figure out what to do with them.  Or they hire people to do stuff and then think up and pile on more stuff.  Pretty soon, the new hire is a newly entrenched principality.  When they behead the prince, then what.

The politicians are all screeching about "job creation."  And they need to be.  But we have to be careful about what we hire people to do.

At Bob's Auto Body, they need at least one guy who can operate a dent puller.  If Bob's Auto Body hired a dent puller guy and then three vice presidents to supervise him, it would be General Motors.

Shrapnel:

--Snowfall in Arkansas is God's way of telling us something.  Any idea what?  Maybe this:  Huckabee has no business being in New York and should get home ASAP.

--Ain't electronic communication grand?  My oldest and I both have accounts on Facebook.  This gives us yet another way to not talk as often as we should or as either of us would like to.

--ain't electronic communication grand?  Cops in Switzerland have closed down a pot farm.  They found it by viewing satellite pictures on "Google Earth."

I'm Wes Richards.  My Opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©2009 WJR

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