People involved in a structure spend more time and energy maintaining that structure than in working toward its goals.The intended context is stuff like government agencies, businesses, non-profits, unions, guilds (like the people in charge of letting you be a doctor or lawyer). That's the kind of stuff the rest of the post discusses. No applications to other areas are mentioned.
The page also suggests that, if it's a good, efficient structure, then it's 85% energy for maintenance and 15% for progress.
My first thought when reading the law was: marriage, dating relationships, friendships, families.
How much work do people put into staying friends, compared with benefitting joint activities they like? I can certainly see married people putting most of their effort into keeping the marriage together, with only a little left to accomplish anything.
In a good friendship, at first glance, it appears the majority of the effort is productive, not maintenance. Like people might go to 10 baseball games together, or have 10 BBQs, or 10 beer nights, or 10 video game playing sessions, for every time they discuss their friendship or have any kind of fight. I don't think that's rare, especially for children. So it seems a good friendship is more than 90% productive.
However, people put a lot of generic effort into learning how to get along with people. They make an effort to fit into social groups when they are alone. And while they are at a baseball game, they spend part of their time wondering about how loudly to cheer and how drunk to get. They don't want to be boring and unenthusiastic, and they don't want to be disruptive either, so they modulate their behavior. Children are still learning how to do these things and have lower expectations about their peers. Adult friends expect everything to go real smoothly since everyone should have already learned how to hang out, how to handle the situations they do together, and how to pay attention all the time.
Typical adults know how to watch for when someone else wants something but isn't saying it. They know how to offer hospitality, turn hospitality down, reoffer it, etc. They know when and how to bring a gift like wine, and how much to spend on it. They even sometimes go find a boyfriend/girlfriend so they can be invited to a couples event.
Typical adults know how to come off as normal, not weird, in the eyes of strangers, so they don't embarrass their group. They know how compromise and, often, hide the fact that they compromised so no one feels bad. They know how to have low standards – if the friend group proposes an activity, they accept unless they have a big problem with it, rather than looking for the most optimized activity. These low standards reduce conflict, which is necessary because they have very limited ability to negotiate more productive ways to spend their time.
So, yes, friend groups go do stuff most of the time. But the whole time everyone is devoting a lot of their attention to making sure things go smoothly. And when they have a meal and chat, they may well discuss any maintenance issues that have come up, such as someone being a little annoying, and maybe they shouldn't invite him next time. (Leaving someone out often seems easier to people than doing problem solving. Which is one reason people try so damn hard to fit in and not cause any problems in the first place, because if a problem does come up, they may well be fucked.)
Schools are another interesting case. How much effort goes into keeping the kids quiet and orderly, and getting them to show up to their classes on time, and getting them to do their homework, and pressuring them to learn the curriculum, and school spirit events, and administration overhead, and deciding what classes you'll take, and so on, vs. actual learning? I think the ratio is grim.