Sunday, February 27, 2005

The legacy of bureaucracy

Bureaucracy assumes that the people factor can be eliminated from
the organizational equation
, that people will simply do as told in
procedure documents, that rules will apply by virtue of simply being
written down somewhere, that the threat of punishment and promise of reward will be enough to
convince each individual to set aside common sense and apply
bureaucratic wisdom... In reality though... People are people and
cannot be forced to behave as machines
. A machine-person lacks Harmony in my opinion and Life will always make them pay the price of lack of Harmony in some shape or form. But again, that is just my opinion, not a universal truth.
Harmony is one of my quests in business. Actually I find information and communication technologies, the Internet in particular, to be extremely harmonious. And please note that for me harmony does not mean purity, perfection or "excellence".  Imperfection can be very harmonious. I won't go into that here, if you don't mind...

The information age brings tools and methods that make it possible for human activities to be managed in a productive, efficient and controlled manner without the major overhead of bureaucratic practices. These tools and methods enable the creation of agile organizations that are able to engage in collaborative projects and activities to produce more value than bureaucracies. And I don't think the question is large vs. small companies, because a large company can be operated as a portfolio of small businesses as GE or 3M tend to show. Of course, to be successful with such a model a large company will have to focus on its edges, invest in its customer-facing people and give more power to the field than to headquarters or at least force headquarters people to spend a sizable proportion of their time in field contexts.

I believe in agile organizations which:

  • put a premium on talent, flexibility and autonomy, managing their
    human potential as a strategic asset and investing heavily in the
    development of their carefully selected people


  • strive for balance and harmony in their development: sales and
    engineering, long term and short term initiatives, tactical and
    strategic aspects...


  • manage their set of internal and external rules to meet the specific requirements of each stage of their growth

  • nurture their relations and ties to the "outside world" and relay market impulses to all relevant people inside the organisation

  • consciously move from one stage of development to the next in an inclusive
    that makes use of all of the existing components of the
    organisation and brings them to their next stage of existence

  • have fun doing what they are doing, thus transforming each second of their lives into a moment of art and creation


And, yes it is a promise, I will write a piece about the importance of harmony in business.

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