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Running Effective Meetings: The bike shed effect
Running Effective Meetings: The bike shed effect
Published: 2016/02/21
Channel: What You Need To Know
Parkinson
Parkinson's Law of triviality
Published: 2016/06/25
Channel: Crystal Learn
What is Parkinson
What is Parkinson's Law?
Published: 2014/04/23
Channel: The Advance Show
Katie Jacobsen - Parkinson
Katie Jacobsen - Parkinson's Law of Triviality -- No, really, it IS interesting!
Published: 2012/12/13
Channel: Katie Jacobsen
Parkinson
Parkinson's law - explained
Published: 2012/08/17
Channel: B2Bwhiteboard
사소함의 법칙 Parkinson’s Law of Triviality [1분 심리학  43회]
사소함의 법칙 Parkinson’s Law of Triviality [1분 심리학 43회]
Published: 2017/05/18
Channel: fooamind
Time Management / The Parkinson
Time Management / The Parkinson's Law #TalkINK 7
Published: 2016/07/05
Channel: Coffee Table Comics
MY BIKE SHED TOUR
MY BIKE SHED TOUR
Published: 2017/03/31
Channel: CyclingCam
The Bike Shed Show 2017
The Bike Shed Show 2017
Published: 2017/06/01
Channel: Moto Drift
Behind the Bike Shed
Behind the Bike Shed
Published: 2013/04/21
Channel: Stewart Bruce
Cognitive Biases - Bike Shedding
Cognitive Biases - Bike Shedding
Published: 2016/02/24
Channel: Arthur Doler
hilarious bike shed fail
hilarious bike shed fail
Published: 2011/04/13
Channel: viking30001
THE BICYCLE SHED. WWW.BIKE-SHED.COM
THE BICYCLE SHED. WWW.BIKE-SHED.COM
Published: 2009/08/13
Channel: toptooler
Boy Runs Into Bike Shed
Boy Runs Into Bike Shed
Published: 2011/07/22
Channel: TheJackobob7
Bike shed rip off
Bike shed rip off
Published: 2014/03/04
Channel: Peter Scott
The Bike Shed Company Overview
The Bike Shed Company Overview
Published: 2013/03/21
Channel: FloatingHarbourFilms
transmission - bikeshed.wmv
transmission - bikeshed.wmv
Published: 2011/05/29
Channel: Angela Denton
Elinor Barker gets her Asgard Bike Shed
Elinor Barker gets her Asgard Bike Shed
Published: 2015/05/15
Channel: Asgard Secure Steel Storage
Forzaman #27 Bike Shed update
Forzaman #27 Bike Shed update
Published: 2016/12/14
Channel: Forza300Man
MY BIKE DOES NOT BELONG IN A SHED!
MY BIKE DOES NOT BELONG IN A SHED!
Published: 2016/06/21
Channel: Ava Hurley
Bike Shed - From Start to Still Not Finished ║ Garden Vlog Ep. 7 │ Large Family Vlog
Bike Shed - From Start to Still Not Finished ║ Garden Vlog Ep. 7 │ Large Family Vlog
Published: 2017/08/25
Channel: Andrea Mills
how to make / Bike shed / DIY
how to make / Bike shed / DIY
Published: 2016/12/01
Channel: RJ HomeMade
Putting up our bike shed
Putting up our bike shed
Published: 2013/07/28
Channel: Dayve Ward
Episode #35: Bike-Shedding
Episode #35: Bike-Shedding
Published: 2016/10/07
Channel: Corporate Pawns
My Bike shed
My Bike shed
Published: 2017/02/09
Channel: LA630
Bike Shed Before.AVI
Bike Shed Before.AVI
Published: 2009/04/26
Channel: Adam Griffin
Building a luxury tiled bike shed
Building a luxury tiled bike shed
Published: 2010/07/14
Channel: garryentropy
Wooden Storage and Bike Shed
Wooden Storage and Bike Shed
Published: 2016/02/14
Channel: Shedswarehouse Ltd
Bikeshed Meaning
Bikeshed Meaning
Published: 2015/04/24
Channel: SDictionary
Miss Bratty Bike Shed Close Up.wmv
Miss Bratty Bike Shed Close Up.wmv
Published: 2011/09/17
Channel: shortshrifts
SHED Bike Cover
SHED Bike Cover
Published: 2017/07/09
Channel: SHED Cambodia
Building Lightweight Bike Shed
Building Lightweight Bike Shed
Published: 2014/09/21
Channel: Vitally Zilber
The Bike Shed
The Bike Shed
Published: 2015/09/03
Channel: Moonstone Expeditions
studio 7 bicycle shed
studio 7 bicycle shed
Published: 2012/09/24
Channel: victor lim
Building a bike shed - The Asgard Access Bike Shed with Insulation!
Building a bike shed - The Asgard Access Bike Shed with Insulation!
Published: 2011/12/14
Channel: Asgard Secure Steel Storage
How to Build a Bike Shed
How to Build a Bike Shed
Published: 2016/06/23
Channel: Next Day Video
Bike shed how to build 007 Final build
Bike shed how to build 007 Final build
Published: 2016/06/09
Channel: Prickly sauce
Pissin Bout
Pissin Bout
Published: 2006/11/08
Channel: yosser25
Garden shed
Garden shed
Published: 2013/04/18
Channel: Salina Bagum
BikeShed - Adding a bike (Admin View)
BikeShed - Adding a bike (Admin View)
Published: 2013/11/18
Channel: Jason Denney
hitch hiker 61 - 2 - bikeshed.wmv
hitch hiker 61 - 2 - bikeshed.wmv
Published: 2011/05/29
Channel: Angela Denton
Bikeshedding Meaning
Bikeshedding Meaning
Published: 2015/04/20
Channel: SDictionary
Connor  trying to climb the bike sheds
Connor trying to climb the bike sheds
Published: 2009/01/28
Channel: jonesyHB
Miss Bratty - Bike Shed.wmv
Miss Bratty - Bike Shed.wmv
Published: 2011/09/16
Channel: shortshrifts
bike shed how to build - 001 Design
bike shed how to build - 001 Design
Published: 2016/04/18
Channel: Prickly sauce
Bicycle storage shed solution, built in East Ham London.
Bicycle storage shed solution, built in East Ham London.
Published: 2011/04/25
Channel: knightlylad
bicycle shed ensemble
bicycle shed ensemble
Published: 2008/10/14
Channel: allisonmarierice
Build a Secure Bike Shed - Ironstor Fortress
Build a Secure Bike Shed - Ironstor Fortress
Published: 2014/07/18
Channel: Ironstor
The Bike Shed Effect - Stranded In Space
The Bike Shed Effect - Stranded In Space
Published: 2010/12/21
Channel: TheBikeShedEffect
Copying over Bike Information Form to BikeShed (for Velocipede)
Copying over Bike Information Form to BikeShed (for Velocipede)
Published: 2013/11/18
Channel: Jason Denney
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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

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Parkinson's law of triviality is C. Northcote Parkinson's 1957 argument that members of an organisation give disproportionate weight to trivial issues.[1] He provides the example of a fictional committee whose job was to approve the plans for a nuclear power plant spending the majority of its time on discussions about relatively minor but easy-to-grasp issues, such as what materials to use for the staff bike shed, while neglecting the proposed design of the plant itself, which is far more important and a far more difficult and complex task.

The law has been applied to software development and other activities.[2] The term bike-shed effect or bike-shedding was coined as a metaphor to illuminate the law of triviality; it was popularised in the Berkeley Software Distribution community by the Danish computer developer Poul-Henning Kamp in 1999[3] and has spread from there to the whole software industry.

Argument[edit]

The concept was first presented as a corollary of his broader "Parkinson's law" spoof of management. He dramatizes this "law of triviality" with the example of a committee's deliberations on an atomic reactor, contrasting it to deliberations on a bicycle shed. As he put it: "The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum [of money] involved." A reactor is so vastly expensive and complicated that an average person cannot understand it, so one assumes that those who work on it understand it. On the other hand, everyone can visualize a cheap, simple bicycle shed, so planning one can result in endless discussions because everyone involved wants to add a touch and show personal contribution.[4]

Problems arise after a suggestion of building something new for the community, like a bike shed, causes everyone involved to argue about the details. This is a metaphor indicating that it is not necessary to argue about every little feature based simply on the knowledge to do so. Some people have commented that the amount of noise generated by a change is inversely proportional to the complexity of the change.[3]

Examples[edit]

In the third chapter, "High Finance, or the Point of Vanishing Interest", Parkinson writes about a fictional finance committee meeting with a three-item agenda:[1] The first is the signing of a £10 million contract to build a reactor, the second a proposal to build a £350 bicycle shed for the clerical staff, and the third proposes £21 a year to supply refreshments for the Joint Welfare Committee.

  1. The £10 million number is too big and too technical, and it passes in two and a half minutes. One committee member proposes a completely different plan, which nobody is willing to accept as planning is advanced, and another who understands the topic has concerns, but does not feel that he can explain his concerns to the others on the committee.
  2. The bicycle shed is a subject understood by the board, and the amount within their life experience, so committee member Mr Softleigh says that an aluminium roof is too expensive and they should use asbestos. Mr Holdfast wants galvanised iron. Mr Daring questions the need for the shed at all. Holdfast disagrees. Parkinson then writes: "The debate is fairly launched. A sum of £350 is well within everybody's comprehension. Everyone can visualise a bicycle shed. Discussion goes on, therefore, for forty-five minutes, with the possible result of saving some £50. Members at length sit back with a feeling of accomplishment."
  3. Parkinson then described the third agenda item, writing: "There may be members of the committee who might fail to distinguish between asbestos and galvanised iron, but every man there knows about coffee – what it is, how it should be made, where it should be bought – and whether indeed it should be bought at all. This item on the agenda will occupy the members for an hour and a quarter, and they will end by asking the secretary to procure further information, leaving the matter to be decided at the next meeting."[5]

Related principles and formulations[edit]

There are several other principles, well known in specific problem domains, which express a similar sentiment.

  • In the context of programming language design, one encounters "Wadler's law", named for computer scientist Philip Wadler.[6] This principle asserts that the bulk of discussion on programming language design centers on syntax (which, for purposes of the argument, is considered a solved problem), as opposed to semantics.
  • Sayre's law is a more general principle, which holds (among other formulations) that "In any dispute, the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake"; many formulations of the principle focus on academia.

A countermeasure is the duck technique in corporate programming: a programmer expects their corporate office to insist on at least one change on every presentation to show that they're participating, regardless of the benefits of that change. Consequently, the programmer intentionally adds an element they expect corporate to remove. Quoted from Jeff Atwood's blog, Coding Horror:[7]

This started as a piece of corporate lore at Interplay Entertainment. It was well known that producers (a game industry position roughly equivalent to project manager) had to make a change to everything that was done. The assumption was that subconsciously they felt that if they didn't, they weren't adding value.

The artist working on the queen animations for Battle Chess was aware of this tendency, and came up with an innovative solution. He did the animations for the queen the way that he felt would be best, with one addition: he gave the queen a pet duck. He animated this duck through all of the queen's animations, had it flapping around the corners. He also took great care to make sure that it never overlapped the "actual" animation.

Eventually, it came time for the producer to review the animation set for the queen. The producer sat down and watched all of the animations. When they were done, he turned to the artist and said, "That looks great. Just one thing: get rid of the duck."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Parkinson, C. Northcote (1958). Parkinson's Law, or the Pursuit of Progress. John Murray. 
  2. ^ Kamp, Poul-Henning (2 October 1999). "Why Should I Care What Color the Bikeshed Is?". Frequently Asked Questions for FreeBSD 7.X, 8.X, and 9.X. FreeBSD. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Poul-Henning Kamp (October 2, 1999). "The Bikeshed email". phk.freebsd.dk. 
  4. ^ Forsyth, Donelson R (2009). Group Dynamics (5th ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 317. ISBN 978-0-495-59952-4. 
  5. ^ Cyril Northcote Parkinson (1957). Parkinson's Law – and other studies in administration (PDF) (third ed.). Houghton Mifflin Company Boston. pp. 29–30. ISBN 9780345347855. 
  6. ^ "Wadler's Law". HaskellWiki. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "New Programming Jargon". Coding Horror. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Karl Fogel, Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project, O'Reilly, 2005, ISBN 0-596-00759-0, "Bikeshed Effect" pp. 135, 261–268 (also online)
  • Grace Budrys, Planning for the nation's health: a study of twentieth-century developments in the United States, Greenwood Press, 1986, ISBN 0-313-25348-X, p. 81 (see extract at Google Books)
  • Bob Burton et al., Nuclear Power, Pollution and Politics, Routledge, 1990, ISBN 0-415-03065-X, p. ix (see extract at Google Books)
  • Darren Chamberlain et al., Perl Template Toolkit, O'Reilly, 2004, ISBN 0-596-00476-1, p. 412 (see extract at Google Books)
  • Donelson R. Forsyth, Group Dynamics, Brooks/Cole, 1990, ISBN 0-534-08010-3, p. 289 (see extract at Google Books)
  • Henry Bosch, The Director at Risk: Accountability in the Boardroom, Allen & Unwin, 1995, ISBN 0-7299-0325-7, p. 92 (see extract at Google Books)
  • Brian Clegg, Crash Course in Personal Development, Kogan Page, 2002, ISBN 0-7494-3832-0, p. 3 (see extract at Google Books)
  • Richard M. Hodgetts, Management: Theory, Process, and Practice, Saunders, 1979, ISBN 0-7216-4714-6, p. 115 (see extract at Google Books)
  • Journal, v. 37–38 1975–1980, Chartered Institute of Transport, p. 187 (see extract at Google Books)
  • Russell D. Archibald, Managing High-Technology Programs and Projects, John Wiley and Sons, 2003, ISBN 0-471-26557-8, p. 37 (see extract at Google Books)
  • Kishor Bhagwati, Managing Safety: A Guide for Executives, Wiley-VCH, 2007, ISBN 3-527-60959-8, p. 54 (see extract at Google Books)
  • Jan Pen, Harmony and Conflict in Modern Society, (Trans. Trevor S. Preston) McGraw–Hill, 1966 p. 195 (see extract at Google Books)
  • Derek Salman Pugh et al., Great Writers on Organizations, Dartmouth, 1993, ISBN 1-85521-383-4, p. 116 (see extract at Google Books)
  • The Federal Accountant v. 13 (September 1963 – June 1964), Association of Government Accountants, Federal Government Accountants Association, Cornell University Graduate School of Business and Public Administration, p. 16 (see extract at Google Books)
  • Al Kelly, How to Make Your Life Easier at Work, McGraw–Hill, 1988, ISBN 0-07-034015-3, p. 127 (see extract at Google Books)
  • Henry Mintzberg, Power in and Around Organizations: Dynamic Techniques of Winning, Prentice–Hall, 1983, ISBN 0-13-686857-6, p. 75 (see extract at Google Books)
  • The Building Services Engineer v.40 1972–1973, Institution of Heating and Ventilating Engineers (Great Britain), Chartered Institution of Building Services (see extract at Google Books)
  • Charles Hampden-Turner, Gentlemen and Tradesmen: The Values of Economic Catastrophe, Routledge, 1983, ISBN 0-7100-9579-1, p. 151 (see extract at Google Books)

External links[edit]

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