Join Gary Hamel for an in-depth discussion in this video Next steps, part of Gary Hamel on Busting Bureaucracy.
- The case for busting bureaucracy is, I think, unimpeachable. It's expensive and it's debilitating. And there's certainly ways of getting started. But having said that, for many people, it's still going to seem just a bit too difficult, just a bit too hard. But let me tell you why I think the wind is blowing at your back on this. Let me tell you why I believe we're at a point in management history where we are going to see revolutionary things happen.
You know, it's hard to think back 100 and more years, but let me take you back for just a moment. In 1890, in the developing economies, nine out of 10 people were working in agriculture, and the average factory had only four employees. And at that time, it was almost impossible to imagine that just one generation hence, 25 years later, in 1915, Ford Motor Company would be building a half million cars a year. And in less than a generation almost all of modern management got invented.
Well, I think we're at a similarly momentous point in management history, and we're going to see a similar revolution. So yes, it may feel like you're fighting the system, but you are also riding the tide of history. First, we live in a world where that old management model simply is not good enough. Organizations are facing new challenges that lie outside the performance envelope of what we can think of as management 1.0. We need organizations that can change faster than they've ever changed before.
We need organizations where innovation doesn't happen despite the system, but is the job of every single person every day. And we need organizations that elicit the very best gifts of all employees, where no imagination, no creativity or initiative goes to waste. These are now simple, competitive requirements, and any company that's going to be effective and win in that new environment is gonna have to dismantle a lot of bureaucracy, a lot of management 1.0.
Number two, I'm optimistic because for the first time we have new tools that allow us to manage in very different ways. You can, like Red Hat, the software company, you can bring an entire company together and have an online conversation about strategy and direction, no longer does it have to be a few people sitting in a room. You can build the equivalent of an internal cloud score where peers can evaluate each other's contributions, and that can be used to drive advancement and to drive salaries.
Before, that simply wasn't possible. So in that old model, all of the information, all of the decisions went up, bureaucracy is a tool for vertical management, now we have the technology that allows us to connect things laterally, that's gonna change the way we bring human beings together at work. And then finally, and most importantly, coming to work right now is the first generation in human history whose primary social reference point is not a pyramid, not a hierarchy. For anybody over the age of about 35, you grew up where school, where religion, where government, where business, they were all built around those traditional hierarchical structures.
But if you grew up on the Web, you accumulated a set of beliefs you will never surrender. You believe that every idea should compete on an equal footing, no matter the status of the author. You believe that you should be judged on your contribution, not your credentials, and most of all, you believe that leaders are leaders only when people willingly follow them. So that combination of things, new challenges, new tools, new expectations, these have laid the groundwork for the revolution in management that's gonna be coming over the next few years.
Your only choice is whether you want to be in front or behind.
- 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.