Parkinson’s Law ?

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Parkinson’s law states: “work expands to fill the time allocated for it”. 🙂 Offshore software industry more or less follows parkinson’s law.  Parkinson’s law is seen like Newton’s law or as true as Newton’s law are. Newton was a scientist and he proved every law with research and verification and those laws late were also proved after two hundred years of study.

On the contrary Parkinson was not a scientist rather he was a humorist. He has collected no data and did not even understand the rules of statistical inference. Yet his saying later adopted by approximately all off-shore anagers as a law. His law becomes popular as it was funny 🙂 Funny enough, managers after putting un-achievable deadlines  and getting lowest quality work completed. They think themselves to be the most successful managers 🙂

Every manager in his/her life has to deal with worker who avoids work, or who seems to ahve no starndard of quality or someone who cannot get the job done. Is n’t it Parkinson’s law? In a healthy environment, the reasons mentioned above in a person is due to lack of confidenct, lack of competence or lack of affiliation with the project and its goals. In none of the reasons it will be feasible or practical or wise to assert schedule pressue. When a worker is unable to perform work, it shows the worker is overwhelmed by difficulty of work and he needs to be re-alligned or re-assigned.

Statistical Data

Now let’s see at some data collected at University of New South Wales for this purpose. A couple of researchers at university perform research on live projects each year. They figured out productivity effect is more or developers work harder if they are trying to meet their own estimates. The guys performed research on more than 103 projects. Lets look at the following table:

Effort Estimate Prepared By Average Productivity Number of Projects
Programmer alone 8.0 19
Supervisor alone 6.6 23
Programmer & Supervisor 7.8 16
System Analyst 9.5 21

Lets first forget about the estimate given by system analyst. The highest productivity occurs when programmer does estimate himself/herself. But what happens when system analyst does the estimate. Why developers work harder to make system analyst’s estimates a success. If we believe as we do that bad estimates are always a demotivating factor, then this data doesn’t need explaining away at all. The systems analyst tends to be a better estimator than either the programmer or the supervisor.

Most surprising part comes from the next research done, let’s see the table below:

Effort Estimate Prepared By Average Productivity Number of Projects
Programmer alone 8.0 19
Supervisor alone 6.6 23
Programmer & Supervisor 7.8 16
System Analyst 9.5 21
(No estimate) 12.0 24

Projects on which the there was no schedule pressure out performed in productivity. Of course, none of this proves that Parkinson’s Law doesn’t apply to development workers. But doesn’t it make you surprise?

The decision to assert schedule pressure to a project needs to be made in much the same way you decide whether or not to punish your child. If your timing is flawless so the justification is easily apparent, then it can help.

Data taken from Dorse House – People ware

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W@rfi

Owner of this blog site. Have expertise on Microsoft technologies.

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