Fifth law of worker entropy

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Office anthropology™

The JC puts on his pith-helmet, grabs his butterfly net and a rucksack full of marmalade sandwiches, and heads into the concrete jungle

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The JC’s fifth law of worker entropy: there is an inverse relationship between the amount of time, t, a worker is obliged by middle management to spend on a task and its overall importance, i, to the organisation. There are two corollaries to the fifth law of worker entropy: firstly, the third (the so-called “law of tedium”, and secondly, the eighth (also known as the “law of infinite deal fatigue”): the longer an activity takes, the more tedious it becomes.


  • Human resources: The organisation will wrack itself for four months of the year crashing mainframe computer systems trying to get a performance appraisal system to work; enforcing its clear desk policy, by way of putative apology celebrating the existence of one half (only) of the population, formulating and updating its risk taxonomy and promoting an internal career fair, but expend exactly no energy promoting actual risk management or risk reduction.
  • Negotiation: A negotiator will spend literally days battling away on the precise waterfall of dispute fallbacks for a NAV trigger — never to be used once the agreement is signed, except to periodically waive triggers that will have inevitably been set too sensitively — but will agree a failure to pay event of default — the one realistic event ever needed — without her counterparty so much as pausing to for breath before moving onto the next item.

See also