Join Gary Hamel for an in-depth discussion in this video Find those who have fought and won, part of Gary Hamel on Busting Bureaucracy.
- To build a credible case for busting bureaucracy you need metrics. But you also need examples of progressive organizations that have learned how to achieve the goals of bureaucracy, control, coordination, and consistency, while avoiding the costs. It's not so much that the leaders in your organization are in love with bureaucracy, it's that they have no idea that there are actually alternatives. Few leaders have been inside of organizations where employees elect their leaders, where compensation decisions are peer-based, where operating units are free to buy services from internal staff groups or not.
Where strategic planning is an online, company-wide conversation, or where there's an internal kickstarter that makes it easy for people to access experimental capital to fund their ideas. For most executives, bureaucracy isn't the safe choice, it's the only choice. And while one might wish that more CEOs were bold pioneers, the fact is most of us wouldn't have sailed with Columbus. We'd have waited for the Trip Advisor review. Thankfully, though, the vanguard have sent back postcards, and you need to share them.
In the exercise file, you'll find a link to a reading list with articles and cases drawn from the vanguard. Find the cases you think are most compelling and share them as broadly as possible. A good place to start, my article for the Harvard Business Review on Morningstar, which just might be the world's least bureaucratic company. It's hard for all of us to imagine something we cannot see, or that we've never seen. When the Iberian explorers, the Spanish and the Portuguese, first came to the "New World" at the end of the 15th century, they discovered that the Native Americans at that time had not yet invented the wheel.
Now, imagine your reaction the first time you saw a cart with wheels being pulled along. You probably would have hit your forehead and said, "Are you kidding me, we've been dragging this stuff "for all these years?" Well, the same thing is true in your organization. Most of the leaders in your company have never seen a company that's bureaucracy-free. And make no mistake, I've never met a leader who's a booster for bureaucracy, but likewise, I've met very few who can suggest an alternative. So, it's up to you to expand their horizons and to help them realize that it's possible to defeat bureaucracy without unleashing pandemonium.
- 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.