Theo A. C. M. Classen introduced the concept of usefulness being perceived as a function of the value of a new application or service during a key note speech on the need for achieving better computing power in 1999 when he was Chief Technology Officer for Philips Semiconductors. (See Dipert, Brian (1999). “It’s elementary”. EDN Magazine)
Usefulness = log(Technology)
And the inverse:
Technology = exp(Usefulness)
Simplistically, the examples used to explain Classen’s Logarithmic Law of Usefulness are:
- A modern car is not substantively better at getting people from point A to point B than an older car.
- 256Mb of computer memory is only 1/8th more practically useful than 128Mb even though the base value has doubled. It would require 16,348Mb (128 x 128Mb) of memory to truly double performance under the law.
The IT industry is constantly searching for technological advances that provide increases in usefulness over time. Indeed, the aim is, according to Moore’s law, to provide a linear increase in usefulness over time by delivering an exponential increase in technology; a clear indication that Classen’s Law holds true.
Can we draw any parallels with Classen’s and Moore’s laws in the field of leadership and people management?
Much has been said about the new era of leadership. We have moved from the authoritarian approach to consensus management. Terms like “Management by Objectives” have come and gone. Now we are looking to lead rather than manage. So time has passed and we are clearly on a journey of leadership discovery but how do we measure the value of the progress made so far and are we in a situation where we could define a similar law?
Leadership = log(Staff Retention)
Team Synergy = exp(Leadership)