Injelititis or Palsied Paralysis

Here are my notes from book Parkinson's Law, or the Pursuit of Progress by C. Northcote Parkinson

  • p10 the student of political science will recognize that administrators are more or less bound to multiply.
  • p14 In any public administrative department not actually at war, the staff increase may be expressed to following formula: ` x = (2k^m + l) / n ` where k is the number of staff seeking promotion through the appointment of subordinates; l represents the difference between the age of appointment and retirement; m is the number of man-hours devoted to answering minutes within the department; and n is the number of effective unites being administered, x will be the number of new staff required each year. … Adn this figure will invariably prove to be between 5,17 percent and 6,56 per cent, irrespective of any variation in the maont of work (if any) to be done.
  • p16 The British method (old pattern) depended upon an interview in which the candidate had to establish his identity. He would be confronted by elderly gentlemen seated round a mahogany table who would presently ask him his name. Let up suppose that the candidate replies, 'John Seymour.' One of the gentlemen would then say, 'Any relation of the Duke of Somerset?' To this the candidate would say, quite possibly, 'No, sir.' Then another gentleman would say, 'Perhaps you are related, in that case, to the Bishop of Watminster?' If he said 'N, sir' again, a third ask in despair, 'To whom then are you related?' In the even of that the candidate's saying, 'Well my father is a fishmonger in Chapside,' the interview was virtually over.
  • p19 The Admiralty version of this British method (old pattern) was different only in its more restricted scope. The Boards of Admirals were unimpressed by titled relatives as such. What they sought to establish was a service connection. The ideal candidate would reply to the second question, 'Yes, Admiral Parker is my uncle. My father is Captain Foley, my grandfather Commodore Foley. My mother's father was Admiral Hardy. Commander Hardy is my uncle. My elderly brother is a cadet at Dartmouth and my younger brother wear a sailor suit.' 'Ah!' the senior Admiral would say. 'And what made you think of joining the Navy?' The answer to this question, however, would scarcely matter, the clerk present having already noted the candidate as accepted. Given a choice between two candidates, both equally acceptable by birth, a member of the Board would ask suddenly, 'What was the number of the taxi you came in?' The candidate who said 'I came by bus' was then thrown out. The candidate who said, truthfully, 'I don't know,' was rejected, and the candidate who said 'Number 2351' (lying) was promptly admitted to the service as a boy with initiative. This method often produced excellent results.
  • p20 The British method (new pattern) was evolved in the late nineteenth century as something more suitable for a democratic country. The Selection Committee would ask briskly, 'What school were you at?' and would be told Harrow, Haileybury, or Rugby, as the case might be. 'What games do you play?' would be the next and invariable question. 'I have played tennis for England, cricket for Yorkshire, rugby for the Harlequins, and fives for Winchester.' The next question would then be 'Do you play polo?' - just to prevent the candidate's thinking too highly of himself. Even without playing polo, how ever, he was evidently worth serious consideration.
  • p22 The Chinese method (old pattern) … It was assumed that classical learning and literary ability would fit any candidate for an administrative post. It was assumed (no doubt rightly) that a scientific education would fit a candidate for nothing - except, possibly, science.
  • p42 Then x = the number of members effectively present at the moment when the efficient working of the cabinet or other committee has become manifestly impossible. This is the coefficient of inefficiency and it is found to lie between 19,9 and 22,4.
  • p44 The House of Commons is so arranged that the individual Member is practically compelled to take one side of the other before he knows what the arguments are, or even (in some cases) before he knows the subject of the dispute. His training from birth has been to play for his side, and this saves him from any undue mental effort. … the British system depends entirely on its seating plan. If the benches did not face each other, no one could tell truth from falsehood, wisdom from folly - unless indeed by listening to it all. But to listen to it all would be ridiculous, for half the speeches must of necessity be nonsense.
  • p63 Law of Triviality: Briefly stated, it means that the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.
  • p75 In point of fact, the tie is to please his wife and the address to satisfy his daughter. The Chinese have their womenfolk under better control. So the prosperous coolie sticks to his hovel and his rice.
  • p83 Every student of human institutions is familiar with the standard test by which the importance of the individual may be assessed. The number of doors to be passed, the number of his personal assistants, the number of his telephone receivers - these three figures, taken with the depth of his carpet in centimetres, have given us a simple formula that is reliable for most parts of the world. It is less widely known that the same sort of measurement is applicable, but in reverse, to the institution itself.
  • p84 A study and comparison of these has tended to prove that perfection of planning is a symptom of decay. During a period of exciting discovery or progress there is no time to plan the perfect headquarters. The time for that comes later, when all the important work has been done. Perfection, we know, is finality; and finality is death.
  • p95 We find everywhere a type of organization (administrative, commercial, or academic) in which the higher officials are plodding and dull, those less senior are active only in intrigue against each other, and the junior men are frustrated or frivolous. Little is being attempted. Nothing is being achieved. And in contemplating this sorry picture, we conclude that those in control have done their best, struggled against adversity, and have finally admitted defeat.
  • p96 British medical specialists are usually quite content to trace the symptoms and define the cause. It is the French, by contrast, who begin by describing the treatment and discuss the diagnosis later, if at all. We feel bound to adhere in this to the British method, which may not help the patient but which is unquestionably more scientific. To travel hopefully is better than to arrive.
  • p96 Injelititis or Palsied Paralysis: The first sign of danger is represented by the appearance in the organization's hierarchy of an individual who combines in himself a high concentration of incompetence and jealousy. Neither quality is significant in itself and mose people have a certain portion of each. But when these two qualities reach a certain concentration - represented at present by the formula I₃J₅ - there is a chemical reaction. The two elements fuse, producing a new substance that we have termed 'injelitance'. The presence of this substance can be safely inferred from the actions of any individual who, having failed to make anything of his department, tries constantly to interfere with other departments and gain control of the central administration. … The next or secondary stage in the progress of the disease is reached when the infected individual gains complete or partial control of the central organization. In many instances this stage is reached without any period of primary infection, the individual having actually entered the organization at that level. The injlitant individual is easily recognizable at this stage from the persistence with which he struggles to eject all those abler than himself, as also from his resistance to the appointment or promotion of anyone who might prove abler in course of time. … If the head of the organization is second-rate, he will see to it that his immediate staff are all third-rate; and they will, in turn, see to it that their subordinates are fourth-rate. There will soon be an actual competition in stupidity, people pretending to be even more brainless than they are. … The next or tertiary stage in onset of this disease is reached when there is no spark of intelligence left in the whole organization from top to bottom.
  • p101 Just as for a quick verdict we judge a private house by inspection of the WC (to find whether there is a spare toilet roll), just as we judge a hotel by the state of the cruet, so we judge a larger institution by the appearance of the canteen.
  • p112 The man who is denied the opportunity of taking decisions of importance begins to regard as important the decisions he is allowed to take. He becomes fussy about filling, keen on seeing that pencils are sharpened, eager to ensure that the windows are open (or shut), and apt to use two or three different coloured inks.
  • p112 It is now known that men enter local politics solely as a result of being unhappy married.
  • p120 Experiment has shown that an elderly man is a responsible position will soon be forced to retire if given sufficient air travel and sufficient forms.