Silent Killer #3: Bureaucratic Styles
To most people, bureaucracy is a bad word, synonymous with ‘red tape’ and wasted time. Yet, despite the negative connotations, most companies still operate bureaucratically – insisting employees work inside of increasingly complex structures with processes and procedures designed to standardize or control everything. While this might have been the most efficient way to train assembly line workers during the Industrial Era, human capital is now the greatest resource for most companies. In other words, we’re paying people to think, to innovate, and to collaborate with others to produce the best possible results. You can’t achieve this level of performance if you attempt to dictate their every move with rigid policies and procedures.
The fall of many of our great companies – including GM, Chrysler, AT&T, DEC, and a host of others – is a testimony to bureaucratic blindness. Unfortunately, contemporary management theory offers no alternatives to this style of organizing work and designing organizational structures. Current hierarchically oriented systems – no matter how lean and ‘matrixed’ – are relics of the bygone era of WWII industrialization and manufacturing.
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About the Author
Chris Majer, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Human Potential Project, is the author of The Power to Transform: Passion, Power, and Purpose in Daily Life (Rodale), which teaches the strategies corporate, military, and sports leaders have used to positively transform themselves and their organizations in a way readers can adept to their own lives and professions. He may be reached at www.humanpotentialproject.com.
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