Are you guilty of bike shedding?


bikes, bikeThere is a peculiar human trait known as ‘bike shedding’ or as Parkinson’s Law of Triviality.

Bike shedding refers to the idea that groups will choose to ignore complex problems and focus on the trivial in order to show personal contribution.

It originates from an example where a committee chooses to ignore deliberating on the placement of an atomic reactor and opts in favour of discussing the colour of a bike shed at length. In short, bike shedding is when everyone weighs in simply because they have the confidence and authority to do so.

The bike shed vs atomic reactor decision seems obvious to outsiders, but consider these examples closer to home:

  • Someone writes a brilliant blog post, but the third commenter points out the typo.
  • The committee that organises the company Christmas party meets twice as long and four times as often as the strategic planning committee.
  • The company has a Facebook page, but not a SEO strategy.
  • The owner believes it has to mind the till personally, but its POS system is out of date.
  • The consultant spends time writing a blog post instead of calling a client (guilty as charged).

Are you merely operating in your comfort zone? Or are you tackling the big questions:

  • How robust is your business model?
  • How do you improve your staff retention?
  • How do you fix shrinkage?
  • How to implement a buying plan?
  • And finally, what to do about that pesky online question that does not seem to go away?

So, what are you really keeping yourself busy with?

As an aside, the flipside of this phenomenon is that you can use this to your advantage in a sales scenario: Get the customer to make decisions about the colour or the fit or some trivial feature, then the major decision (to buy or not to buy) is subsumed in the trivial.

Have fun


Ganador: Retail training for the 21st century retailer dealing with the 21st century consumer.



  1. Nick Bonich posted on September 23, 2013

    Best read in a while - spot on Dennis!

  2. P e ter posted on September 23, 2013

    Great ! I would have a business plan except I have too many customers who want to buy things.

  3. Dennis Price posted on September 24, 2013

    Thanks Nick. And Peter... Happy for you. (But if you read me often you will know a BP is low on my list...)

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