Those of you who subscribe to my posts and who have a good memory – already that feels like a tiny subset of our sentient race – will know that I’m a big fan of Parkinson’s Law, which states that works expands to fill the time available.

There’s also the uniquely British cock-up theory, which generally attributes things going wrong to a combination of happenstance and plain old human error. My good friend Gaz is a firm believer in the theory and indeed you can argue that some major – not to say seismic – events are the result of what might more euphemistically be called Hanlon’s Razor, or as the Americans would say, “stuff happens.”

This leads me on to suggest that there might perhaps be a variant or additional tenet to Parkinson’s Law, which goes as follows.

“The closer one gets to a deadline for the completion of work, the higher the probability of something going wrong.”

This I believe to be an inescapable truth. As we approach the finishing line for a piece of work, the chance of something going askew – the printer not working, the Internet connection dropping, the mobile signal flaking, the application crashing, a key person we need to reach urgently to confirm or approve something being unavailable – seems to increase exponentially.

What is it, that that causes this phenomenon? Is it simply the case that, as we approach the end of something, and attempt to bring all of the disparate elements or threads together, those threads get caught up in knots?

Greater people than I have wrestled with this problem, I’m sure, and come up with much more convincing explanations than I ever could. Nevertheless, I think it has real validity for us all.

 

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