Principles, Laws, & Effects You Need to Know (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Amara’s law ”” “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” (think EMR)

Asimov’s three laws of robotics ”” Also called, more simply, the Three Laws of Robotics or just the Three Laws, a set of rules which the fictional robots appearing in the writings of Isaac Asimov (1920”“1992) must obey. There were eventually four Laws when the Zeroeth was added. (Someday you will thank me for including this one)

Clarke’s three laws ”” Formulated by Arthur C. Clarke. Several corollaries to these laws have also been proposed.  First law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.  Second law: The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.  Third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. (Extremely important ideas for healthcare executives.)

Conway’s law ”” Any piece of software reflects the organizational structure that produced it. Named for Melvin Conway.  Think about this when you select an EMR and be brave enough to ask the company you are giving a lot of money to about this law.

Dilbert principle ”” Coined by Scott Adams as a variation of the Peter Principle of employee advancement. Named after Adams’ Dilbert comic strip, it proposes that “the most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management.” (You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, everybody’s seen it.)

Finagle’s law ”” Generalized version of Murphy’s law, fully named Finagle’s Law of Dynamic Negatives and usually rendered, “Anything that can go wrong, will,” or, “If something can go wrong, it will go wrong, and at the worst possible moment.”

Goodhart’s law ”” When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure. (Quality measures?)

Hanlon’s razor ”” A corollary of Finagle’s law, and a play on Occam’s razor (see the dictionary entry under “O”), normally taking the form, “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”  Alternately, “Do not invoke conspiracy as explanation when ignorance and incompetence will suffice, as conspiracy implies intelligence.”

Hawthorne effect ”” A form of reactivity whereby subjects improve an aspect of their behavior being experimentally measured simply in response to the fact that they are being studied. Named after Hawthorne Works. (If you’ve never tried this in your practice, you might want to give it a whirl.)

Herblock‘s law ”” “If it’s good, they’ll stop making it.” (possibly refers to the best shoes I ever owned.)

Hofstadter’s law ”” “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”

Murphy’s law ”” “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Ascribed to Edward A. Murphy, Jr.

Newton’s laws of motion ”” In physics, three scientific laws concerning the behaviour of moving bodies, which are fundamental to classical mechanics (and since Einstein, which are valid only within inertial reference frames). Discovered and stated by Isaac Newton (1643”“1727), they can be formulated, in modern terms, as follows:  First law: “A body remains at rest, or keeps moving in a straight line (at a constant velocity), unless acted upon by a net outside force.” Second law: “The acceleration of an object of constant mass is proportional to the net force acting upon it.” Third law: “Whenever one body exerts a force upon a second body, the second body exerts an equal and opposite force upon the first body.”  (Applies extremely well to human resource issues.)

Parkinson’s Law ”” “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Coined by C. Northcote Parkinson (1909”“1993), who also coined its corollary, “Expenditure rises to meet income.” In computers: Programs expand to fill all available memory.  Also, Parkinson’s Law of Triviality, which contends that in organizations, notably in meetings and group discussions about projects, most time and attention (or certainly a disproportionately large effort) is given to trivial issues rather than important ones. Boy howdy, you know that’s true!

Peter Principle ”” “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” Coined by Dr. Laurence J. Peter (1919”“1990) in his book The Peter Principle. In his follow-up book, The Peter Prescription, he offered possible solutions to the problems his Principle could cause.

Postel’s Law ”” Be conservative in what you do; be liberal in what you accept from others. Derived from RFC 761 (Transmission Control Protocol, 1980) in which Jon Postel summarized earlier communications of desired interoperability criteria for the Internet Protocol.

Sutton’s law ”” “Go where the money is”. Often cited in medical schools to teach new doctors to spend resources where they are most likely to pay off. The law is named after bank robber Willie Sutton, who when asked why he robbed banks, is claimed to have answered “Because that’s where the money is.”

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