Thursday, June 12, 2014

LAW OF TRIVIALITY

LAW OF TRIVIALITY
Management Musings
By
VIKRAM KARVE

I am sure you have read a book called PARKINSON’S LAW and are familiar with Parkinson’s First Law:

“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion”

This law had its genesis in an analytical study of the Admiralty and most of us have seen this law in operation in the military and civilian bureaucracy.

Parkinson’s First Law comprises Chapter 1 of this book.

As you read on, in Chapter 6 titled HIGH FINANCE, you will find another interesting law: THE LAW OF TRIVIALITY

The author describes the goings on in a finance committee meeting.

An atomic reactor costing 10 million pounds is cleared without much discussion because most of the committee members are clueless about the intricacies of an atomic reactor.

A proposal for a bicycle shed costing 350 pounds is hotly debated for more than an hour and finally not approved as members feel the estimate is too costly.

This is because everyone can visualize a bicycle shed, everyone has some idea about construction costs, and the paltry sum of 350 pounds is within everybody’s comprehension.

Haven’t we seen similar things happening in uniform, both at the macro and at the micro levels?

A sophisticated expensive weapon system or an extravagant technology project costing hundreds of crores of rupees is sanctioned quickly without much debate because the powers-that-be comprising politicians, bureaucrats and “non-technical” senior officers are quite clueless about state-of-the-art technologies.

On the other hand, a comparatively trivial expenditure like a small monetary allowance to soldiers or “one rank one pension” to ex-servicemen is acrimoniously debated and discussed ad nauseum, and in all probability, the powers-that-be are reluctant to sanction this comparatively trivial expenditure because they can clearly comprehend the proposal.

This “law of triviality” can be observed at the micro level too.

Take the example of Officers Mess General Body Meetings.

The all-important financial balance sheet is passed without much discussion.

I remember an instance where a junior officer who asked some uncomfortable questions about large expenditures shown in the balance sheet was told to shut up and sit down by the PMC who admonished him, “The Balance Sheet has been audited by a CA – you are a piddly Lieutenant – do you know more about accounting and finance than a bloody CA?”

On the other hand, trivial items of expenditure like increasing daily messing charges, enhancing party shares, purchase of crockery, glassware and flowerpots, which newspapers and magazines to buy for the library, nominal increase in honorarium to mess employees – these are hotly debated issues since everyone is a “know-it-all” on these matters.

Dear Reader:

Have you observed the LAW OF TRIVIALITY in action, in and out of Uniform?

Do tell us about your hilarious experiences.

VIKRAM KARVE
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All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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