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Rinaldo's laws of organizations (Rich Salz)

( I think I got this from Usenet years ago. --r$ )

Rinaldo's Laws

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, I have synthesized the following laws.

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 outcome.

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 electronic mail.

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?

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