Parkinson’s law of triviality definition

Also known as bikeshedding, or the bikeshed colour effect, Parkinson’s law of triviality refers to the tendency of people in organisations – and by extension the organisations themselves – to give disproportionate attention to trivial issues and details.

The example Parkinson used to illustrate his law was a committee’s discussion on using an atomic reactor compared to painting their bike shed. The reactor is expensive and understandable by only a few people, so people assume that the decisions that need to be made about it can be made easily by those who work on it. In contrast, everyone can have an opinion on the colour of the bike shed – and understands its implications – which results in everyone participating and wanting to add their ‘expertise.’

Parkinson summarises the above process as: "The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum [of money] involved."