Here’s A Wild Idea: Organisational Insanity – The Bureaucracy Gap

You’ve likely heard of Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing twice but expecting something different. Well this week I’ve got another version of insanity for you: letting someone who has no idea about your business or context make decisions for you.

Yet this is what I see time and time again in organisations larger than a few hundred people.

This leader disempowerment is why bureaucracy is so often lamented.

Anyone who’s tried to get anything done in a big organisation knows the feeling: someone with no context interfering (often with the best of intent) in what you’re trying to do (and taking far too long to do so!)

In fact, there’s a simple way to think about it. The further away the final decision making is from those leading and doing the work – the greater the ‘bureaucracy gap’.

Unfortunately that gap is too wide, too often. Just this week alone I came across two instances of this organisational insanity.

The first instance was when multiple execs had decided to go ahead on a vendor’s proposal – deeming it good value for money and well aligned with their targets… that was until they were ‘required’ to run it by procurement who (no-so-promptly) rejected it. An internal appeal process then commenced

…Yes, an internal appeal process…

The second is where a corporate comms function had coupled with HR as part of an organisational restructure. Talking points for organisational leadership had been drafted up and given to each leader to ‘make their own’… Well, kind of – as each leader was then required to obtain comms pre-approval on their final speeches.

How’s that for trust?

So here’s a wild idea –

Shrink the bureaucracy gap. Let your leaders make the decisions necessary to do their job.

These types of corporate functions – PMOs, Procurement, Comms, etc. – they are expert support roles… Support being the key word.

(Weirdly enough – I’ve written an entire book on how to ensure your PMO doesn’t fall into this very trap.)