Join Gary Hamel for an in-depth discussion in this video Arm yourself with data, part of Gary Hamel on Busting Bureaucracy.
- If you want to bust bureaucracy, you have to speak to the head as well as the heart, and that means loading up on data. Opinions matter but so do hard facts. Bureaucrats pay attention to things that can be measured. Take the challenge of minimizing errors in the healthcare system. While any death due to a clinical blunder is a tragedy, it wasn't until 1999 that reducing medical mistakes became a national priority. The catalyst, a study by the Institute of Medicine which revealed that as many as 98,000 lives were being lost each year due to preventable errors.
In most organizations, the cost of bureau-sclerosis is invisible. This has to change. With your posse, start to track your organizations BMI. That's not body mass index, that's bureaucratic mass index. Get some hard numbers on the extent of bureaucracy in your company. You need to build a baseline. Here's the sort of data you may want to collect. The number of management layers. The average span of control. The percentage of time nonmangerial employees spend on compliance.
The percentage of time managers devote to internal versus external issues. The size of staff groups as a percentage of total head count. The percentage of time that staff groups spend on ensuring compliance versus providing support for innovation and growth. The average time span for budget requests. The degree to which frontline employees are empowered to make decisions around how they use their time. The degree of trust ordinary employees have in their leaders. And the extent of transparency in the organization around performance data, salaries, and key priorities.
Again, in the exercise file you'll find a pdf that contains a list of things you can track. You may need some help in pulling the data together, so once again, reach out. But basically, you're trying to understand where and how bureaucracy adds overhead, creates friction in decision making, makes your organization more insular, disempowers your teammates, strangles innovation, and sows cynicism and mistrust. If you want to defeat bureaucracy you need to make the cost of bureaucracy as visible as your company's payroll costs or its energy costs.
- Focus your frustration
- Enroll a posse of change agents
- Build an irresistible case for change
- Learn from organizations that have conquered bureaucracy
- "Hack" the management systems in your organization
With these insights any employee can become a bureaucracy buster.
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