Parkinson’s Law of Triviality

Parkinson’s Law of Triviality (also known by the expression ‘color of the bike shed’) is British author, C. Northcote Parkinson’s 1957 argument that organizations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues. Parkinson compares a committee’s deliberations on a nuclear power plant to deliberation on a bicycle shed:

A nuclear reactor is so vastly expensive and complicated that an average person cannot understand it, so they assume that those working on it understand it; even those with strong opinions often withhold them for fear of being shown to be insufficiently informed. On the other hand, everyone understands a bicycle shed (or thinks he or she does), so building one can result in endless discussions because everyone involved wants to add his or her touch and show that they have contributed.

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