“Often, it is extremely difficult to judge wheter a given administrative chore is worth doing – they always seem worthwhile, especially to workers who have no overall picture of the process.

Unless there are eagle-eyed managers who are obsessed with overall efficiency, office tasks will just naturally grow and grow, and more and more people will be needed to push the paper around.

every… [individual] is afraid of upsetting their boss. Senior officials issue arbitrary orders and everyone scrambles to obey.”

Source: Lee Gough, C. Northcote Parkinson’s Parkinson’s Law

These sentiments ring true for many office workers, who operate with incomplete information. This is not to say that full information is always possible. But it should always be shared as far low as possible. Without context – without a ‘line of sight’ between a worker’s task and the bigger picture – individuals are left to guess about what is important and what is not, and often become dissatisfied and produce lower quality work.

The role of those in senior positions is to provide context – why do we exist? What does success look like? How do we get there? – and then repeat, repeat, repeat.