Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Parkinson's law of triviality, also known as bikeshedding, bike-shed effect


Parkinson's law of triviality, also known as bikesheddingbike-shed effect, or the bicycle-shed example, is C. Northcote Parkinson's 1957 argument that organizations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues.[1] Parkinson observed and illustrated that a committee whose job is to approve plans for a nuclear power plant spent the majority of its time with pointless discussions on relatively trivial and unimportant but easy-to-grasp issues, such as what materials to use for the staff bike-shed, while neglecting the less-trivial proposed design of the nuclear power plant itself, which is far more important but also a far more difficult and complex task to criticize constructively.

The law has been applied to software development[2] and other activities, and the term "bikeshedding" was coined as a metaphor to illuminate Parkinson's Law of Triviality and was popularized in the Berkeley Software Distribution community by Poul-Henning Kamp[3] and has spread from there to the software industry at large.

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