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"The time spent in a meeting on an item is inversely propotional to its value (up to a limit)."

This requires a little explination. Consider a typical meeting for middle management. The first item on the agenda is aprooval of costs for a new nuclear fission generator. Its going to cost 10 billion dollars, but nobody in the meeting really understands much about nuclear fission and doesn't really care anyway. Besides which some other department has probably gone through all the details. One guy at the meetings has heard something about nuclear power being dangerous, but doesn't really understand and frankly doesn't want to be in the meeting anyway so he says nothing.

The next item on the agenda is a bike shed for the staff. This is only going to cost 500 dollars but provokes a lot more intest. People understand bike sheds and the issues involved, e.g. what design? who should build it? where should it be located? which department is going to fund it? And so on... All of these issues need to be discussed and so it takes a long time to resolve.

There is a limit to this of course, this is when the amount concerned is trivially small. Probably about 50 dollars, or the amount the executives would be prepared to give to charity.

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