My study of bureaucracy has been more accidental than planned.
For more than thirty years, I have been privileged to be on the "inside" of hundreds of large organizations. For ten years, I was with IBM helping large organizations absorb their first computers. For the past nineteen years, I have been part of Kaset International, whose mission is to help organizations achieve extraordinary customer relations.
My work has always involved helping organizations change. Whether they were absorbing their first computer, or working to become "customer focused," I came to know them when they were dealing with significant change.
Virtually every organization I worked with had some of the negative "stuff" that most of us informally call "bureaucracy." Some were very bureaucratic. Some were less so. Frankly, the stuff we can bureaucracy was so omnipresent that I just took it for granted.
Then, something odd began to happen. I noticed that whenever an organization decided to undertake a service quality improvement program, they also reported a reduction in the stuff they called bureaucracy.
In the early stages, I even thought that service improvement campaigns were, by themselves, a method of reducing bureaucracy.
Unfortunately, it turned out that the de-bureaucratizing effects of service improvement were not permanent. In fact, I observed that service improvement efforts were being thwarted by bureaucracy. More recently, I have also observed that many, if not most, quality improvement efforts are also being thwarted by bureaucracy.
From these observations, I offer the following assertions:
In the early stages of an effort to become "customer focused," the negative effects of bureaucracy are noticeably reduced.
In the later stages of an effort to become customer focused, bureaucracy becomes the primary barrier.
By 1985, 1 had realized that many, if not most, of the organizations I worked with needed help to reduce or eliminate bureaucracy. After researching everything I could find on bureaucracy, I discovered that many writers had written about what bureaucracy is, but very little had been written about how to reduce or eliminate it.
Thus was born this book.
This book is dedicated to you who work in a bureaucratic organization and would prefer to work in a more healthful, productive and satisfying work environment.
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