Busy doing nothing

New Scientist has an interesting article on how the social networks of organisations affect how they work. This is a real-world manifestation of a well known social network principle, the static structure of the network (who-knows-whom) affects its dynamics (who-does-what).

The best anecdote is C. Northcote Parkinson's realisation of why suddenly everything had gone quiet when each of his immediate superiors were unexpectedly called away from duty: "There had never been anything to do. We'd just been making work for each other."

It brings to mind the recent Ponzi scams, where money has been shifted around to provide the illusion of growth. The moral: avoid shuffling work around without actually achieving anything.


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