Join Gary Hamel for an in-depth discussion in this video Change in action: The National Health Service (NHS), part of Gary Hamel on Busting Bureaucracy.
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- I understand that the idea of busting bureaucracy, of tearing up the tracks on which our organizations have run for 150 years seems very daunting, maybe even impossible. That's why I've spent a lot of time trying to understand, how is it that ordinary people do extraordinary things? And when you talk to people who've changed the world, you discover they share some personal traits. And they've worked hard to develop these traits. First of all, you find courage.
People who believe that life is too short to work on inconsequential problems. That they have a responsibility to those around them to fix things that are broken, and make the world a better place. That are willing to aim for goals that cannot be planned for, that are outside of the range of kind of how they can see it getting done. So that's number one, you have to have that sort of courage, that every day is propelling you forward and giving you the confidence to move, even when you can't see the path in front of you. A second trait is compassion.
We all know a lot of people in our organizations that are in it for themselves, that are parochial, that are whiners, but they're not in it for everyone else. There is nothing that can be a more powerful force for change than somebody who steps up and says, "I'm in this for you, "I want your work environment to be better, "I want you to be happier here." Because that kind of compassion attracts followers, and more importantly, it gives you some cover for making mistakes. When people know you're in it for them, rather than for yourself, they'll give you grace, and they'll follow you anywhere.
Thirdly, you have to be a contrarian. You can't accept conventional wisdom. Innovation always starts from asking, what aren't we talking about? What aren't we seeing here? Where have we simply become collectively blind? So if you're unwilling to challenge the status quo, if you're unwilling to challenge the taken for granted beliefs that paralyze our ability to think in new ways, you can't change the world. And then finally, you have to build a community. This is not about you, this is about attracting people around you.
So often I'll be in an organization where perhaps I have access to the CEO or other leaders, and someone will come to me and say, "Gary we know you're talking to our CEO. "We have this great idea, would you share it? "Would you endorse it?" And I almost always say no. Not because I don't wanna be helpful, but that's not the best way to help. The best way to help is to say to them, go talk to 10 of your colleagues. You know, the fact is, most new ideas are dumb. Maybe 90% of them are dumb. So before you waste their time, see if you can get a half dozen people to show up on a Saturday morning, help you flesh that idea out, write a white paper, design an experiment, put something up on the Web.
And once you're able to do that, then start to make your case and push up. So always, if you wanna have impact, build the community, and then go after the points of influence. So if you think about those things, courage, having that courageous heart, having a compassionate soul, having a contrarian mind, and building a community around you, you will be amazed at what you can actually get done in your organization, and the contribution you can make to building organizations that are finally bureaucracy-free.
- 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.