Category Archives: efficiency

The Pensions Agency: a delightful surprise

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 17.40.48Dalrymple rings the Pensions Agency and is

(pleasantly) astonished by the staff’s courtesy and efficiency. There are no infuriating messages to listen to, no options to choose from; one speaks straight away to a human being, and a polite and intelligent one at that. How is it done? I think we should send a team of investigators.

The ludicrous cult of long hours

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 07.50.56Dalrymple’s principle states that

efficiency declines as the number of hours worked grows.

Dalrymple himself is at his best, he explains,

for about two hours a day—shortly after waking—and it is downhill all the way thereafter.

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 07.55.05

The suddenly and unwontedly efficient and alert essayist

Only one thing restores his efficiency or alertness, if not his soul:

the prospect, previously unexpected, of earning a good sum of money. This acts on my brain in the same way as amphetamine.

(Johnson: No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.)

Young lawyers, Dalrymple points out,

are expected to examine documents and research precedents for hours on end, though nothing is easier than to overlook the single key fact in a case in which there are hundreds or thousands of pages of dreary documents.

OBBB (overworked banker behaving badly)

Machismo in the empire of imaginary money

For the macho workers in finance,

their absurdly long hours are a source of pride, a seeming justification for what they earn and an excuse for behaving badly once the pressure is relieved. Perhaps there would be fewer financial crises if financiers and their junior aspirants worked fewer hours.