Parkinson’s Law: friend or foe?

For the last two weeks, I’ve been participating in Seth Godin’s altMBA program. It’s an amazing experience with the goal of helping people “level up and lead.”

In my own terms, I’d say the program challenges how we are taught to think. It changes how we are taught to lead, interact with each other, and make decisions.

What is so fascinating about this program (and believe me, I’ll be writing more about it) is the pure, unadulterated ambiguity. Teams are presented each week with three projects/prompts and tasked with submitting a written response.

We are told that our groups meet for three hours every Tuesday and Thursday, and eight hours on Sunday throughout the length of the program (30 days).

But there is very little oversight in altMBA. There are no grades and there is no accreditation. It’s all about getting out what you put in.

To that end, the three or even eight hour time blocks are totally arbitrary. This speaks to Parkinson’s Law:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

If we were told our group meetings were for 2 and 5 hours, we would make it work. If they were 5 and 12 hours, we would make it work.

It’s a fascinating phenomenon in how we work and approach tasks.

Implicit in this law is the inherent threat or opportunity.

In your work, does Parkinson’s Law play the role of friend or foe?


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