Unix ve yönetim gurularından dersler: Poul-Henning Kamp ve Parkinson Yasası

16 Aug

FreeBSD’nin efsanevi geliştiricilerinden Poul-Henning Kamp‘ın 1999 yılında yazdığı müthiş bir mesajı görünce bazı kısımlarını buraya not düşmeden edemedim. Kamp, meşhur Parkinson Yasasına göndermede bulunuyor ve BSD ortamları da dahil hemen her büyük organizasyonun bundan nasıl muzdarip olduğunu güzel örneklerle açıklıyor. Yazının devamındaki e-posta ve e-posta listeleri ile ilgili yorumlar bu yazının yazıldığı tarihten 6 sene sonra belki de çok daha fazla geçerli durumdalar! Fazla söze ne hacet (vurgular ve linkler benden):

“What is it about this bike shed ?” Some of you have asked me.

It’s a long story, or rather it’s an old story, but it is quite short actually. C. Northcote Parkinson wrote a book in the early 1960’ies, called “Parkinson’s Law”, which contains a lot of insight into the dynamics of management.

You can find it on Amazon, and maybe also in your dads book-shelf, it is well worth its price and the time to read it either way, if you like Dilbert, you’ll like Parkinson.

Somebody recently told me that he had read it and found that only about 50% of it applied these days. That is pretty darn good I would say, many of the modern management books have hit-rates a lot lower than that, and this one is 35+ years old.

In the specific example involving the bike shed, the other vital component is an atomic power-plant, I guess that illustrates the age of the book.

Parkinson shows how you can go in to the board of directors and get approval for building a multi-million or even billion dollar atomic power plant, but if you want to build a bike shed you will be tangled up in endless discussions.

Parkinson explains that this is because an atomic plant is so vast, so expensive and so complicated that people cannot grasp it, and rather than try, they fall back on the assumption that somebody else checked all the details before it got this far. Richard P. Feynmann gives a couple of interesting, and very much to the point, examples relating to Los Alamos in his books.

A bike shed on the other hand. Anyone can build one of those over a weekend, and still have time to watch the game on TV. So no matter how well prepared, no matter how reasonable you are with your proposal, somebody will seize the chance to show that he is doing his job, that he is paying attention, that he is *here*.

In Denmark we call it “setting your fingerprint”. It is about personal pride and prestige, it is about being able to point
somewhere and say “There! *I* did that.” It is a strong trait in politicians, but present in most people given the chance. Just think about footsteps in wet cement.

I bow my head in respect to the original proposer because he stuck to his guns through this carpet blanking from the peanut gallery, and the change is in our tree today. I would have turned my back and walked away after less than a handful of messages in that thread.

And that brings me, as I promised earlier, to why I am not subscribed to -hackers:

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Posted by on August 16, 2006 in e-Learning, General, Management


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