Bloated bureaucracies crush aspirations, stifle creativity, suppress ingenuity, and slow down responsiveness. Unfortunately, once bureaucracy develops, it is as difficult to control in business as crabgrass on a suburban lawn. Bureaucracies cause people to thirst for power, value personal ambition over team gain, and put paperwork before people.
In bureaucracies, employees “don’t matter” because they are single voices, and individual customers “don’t matter” because they are never heard by the people who determine policy. People choose the political solution rather than the best answer. Promotions are earned through political savvy rather than performance; the “show” becomes more important than content; and rumor becomes the primary form of communication. This causes organizations to focus inward and lose touch with reality.
To succeed, bureaucratic obstacles must be eliminated, and speed, simplicity, and continuous improvement emphasized. Operational units must remain small. People must get out of their offices and in front of customers. Ad hoc task forces, composed of multifunctional groups, should be set up to tackle issues; ideas should be chosen based on merit rather than on an individual’s place in the pecking order; and activities that do not add value to the client should be eliminated.