Parkinson shows how you can go in to the board of directors and
get approval for building a multi-million or even billion dollar
atomic power plant, but if you want to build a bike shed you will
be tangled up in endless discussions.
Parkinson explains that this is because an atomic plant is so vast,
so expensive and so complicated that people cannot grasp it, and
rather than try, they fall back on the assumption that somebody
else checked all the details before it got this far. Richard P.
Feynmann gives a couple of interesting, and very much to the point,
examples relating to Los Alamos in his books.
A bike shed on the other hand. Anyone can build one of those over
a weekend, and still have time to watch the game on TV. So no
matter how well prepared, no matter how reasonable you are with
your proposal, somebody will seize the chance to show that he is
doing his job, that he is paying attention, that he is *here*.
In Denmark we call it "setting your fingerprint". It is about
personal pride and prestige, it is about being able to point
somewhere and say "There! *I* did that." It is a strong trait in
politicians, but present in most people given the chance. Just
think about footsteps in wet cement.