Subject: Rinaldo's laws of organizations
( I think I got this of Usenet years ago. --r$ )
As I will be leaving the Washington area in early May, I thought it
appropriate to share the wisdom that I have accumulated thus far. These
truths have come not as a vision but by observation over time. Accordingly,
Choreography is its own reward
Some things are done only for the sake of form. Don't fight it by
looking for substance in everything. Do it long enough and you'll
find enjoyment in an elephant dance.
He who does the work shapes it
As applied to computers, he who writes the code rules (the Coding
rule). In meetings, he who writes the minutes determines the
The less the knowledge, the more jealously it is preserved
Societies with only a few precious facts make their people memorize
them and pledge to faithfully abide by them. In contrast, highly
developed disciplines quit worrying about losing knowledge (unless the
computer crashes and there is no backup).
Excellence increases demands
Critics gather to spot tinier flaws as work nears perfection.
Promptness invites impatience. In correspondence, the faster you
answer a letter, the faster your correspondent will answer giving you
something with a shorter deadline. This reaches a fever pitch with
Skills diminish professionalism
Engineers who admit to drafting skills are vulnerable to assignment of
drafting work, just to help out. Similarly, female professionals
should hide any clerical skills lest they be asked to pinch hit for
one of the secretaries in the event of illness.
What separates the competent from the incompetent is the ability to
cover up mistakes
Many successful sales demonstrations have been made with defective
products in the hands of competent persons who avoid demonstrating the
features which don't work. Beautiful Xerox copies can be made from
originals riddled with correction fluid. Recovery from some grievous
errors can be attained by simply announcing, "No problem. We'll just
put it back in the word processor!" The computer software profession
seems to be the exception; who else is so blatant as to have a term
such as "debugging" to let the world know that they need extra time
funded by the customer to correct their own errors.
Silence is not acquiescence
Contrary to what you may have heard, silence of those present is not
necessarily consent, even the reluctant variety. They simply may sit
in stunned silence and figure ways of sabotaging the plan after they
regain their composure.
Quick-reaction and slow-reaction facilities rotate
Once people discover that there is a quick-reaction facility (QRF),
they will try to get all their work done there, bogging it down in
work and leaving the slow-reaction facility (SRF) nothing to do, thus
becoming the faster of the two.
Complexity attracts brilliance
The KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle is no fun and certainly
not a professional approach. If you want brilliant people to do work
for you make it complex and demanding. The true professional will
spend 20 hours at the computer writing a one-time-use program that
will replace 10 hours of clerical work. Anyway, 20 hours at
professional rates pays more than 10 hours at clerical rates. Also,
it's more intellectually rewarding. The greatest achievement is to
use one's finest professional talents to accomplish something that
didn't need to be done.
Bad guys are replaced
Did you ever rejoice over the departure of someone that you couldn't
get along with only to find that a replica has shown up? When you are
trying to make a U-turn and you have someone tailgating you, have you
pulled off on a side street, then into an alley only to find that two
other cars are right behind you?