STANDSTILL agencies build bike sheds.
STANDOUT agencies build nuclear power plants.
As your agency grows you’ll become more susceptible to the bike-shed effect.
Managers of STANDSTILL agencies often get trapped in what is otherwise known as Parkinson’s Law of Triviality. It observes the human tendency to devote a great deal of time to unimportant details while crucial matters go unattended.
An agency is more at risk of it as the team grows, time passes and/or people become friendly and more familiar with each other.
It can lead to a situation where people fight over the trivial. They’ll ignore what’s complicated. They’ll focus too much on easy-to-understand ideas at the expense of important, but hard to talk about ideas.
As Parkinson noted, a committee spent more time taking about the details of building a bicycle storage shed than it did on designs for a nuclear power plant.
STANDOUT agencies are just as prone as other groups to this dynamic, but 2 things help them:
1. They’re aware it can happen (now you are too!)
2. They use external advisors to keep them on track.
Look out for meetings where you’re getting bogged down in the trivial this week.
If you think an external advisor could help you avoid bikeshedding, I might possibly know one or two people that you could talk to…. 😉