Busting BureaucracyBureaucracy: red tape and other negative by-products


Bureaucracy: Red Tape and Other Negative By-products

Inside the organization, employees live with the red tape and some very negative by-products of the bureaucratic form.

When employees are asked to give examples of things they think of as being bureaucratic, they frequently cite the following:

• Each department has its own agenda, and departments don’t cooperate to help other departments get the job done.

• The head of a department feels responsible first for protecting the department, its people and its budget, even before helping to achieve the organization’s mission.

• There is political in-fighting, with executives striving for personal advancement and power.

• Ideas can be killed because they come from the "wrong" person. Ideas will be supported because the are advanced by the "right" person.

• People in their own department spend much of their time protecting their department’s "turf."

• People in other departments spend so much time protecting their "turf" that they don’t have time to do the work they are responsible to do.

• They are treated as though they can’t be trusted.

• They are treated as though they don’t have good judgment.

• They are treated as though they won’t work hard unless pushed.

• Their work environment includes large amounts of unhealthy stress.

• The tendency of the organization is to grow top-heavy, while the operating units of the organization tend to be too lean.

• Promotions are more likely to be made on the basis of politics, rather than actual achievements on the job.

• Top managers are dangerously ill-informed and insulated from what is happening on the front lines or in "the field."

• Information is hoarded or kept secret and used as the basis for power.

• Data is used selectively, or distorted to make performance look better than it really is.

• Internal communications to employees are distorted to reflect what the organization would like to be, rather than what it really is.

• Mistakes and failures are denied, covered up or ignored.

• Responsibility for mistakes and failure tends to be denied, and where possible, blame is shifted to others.

• Decisions are made by larger and larger groups, so no one can be held accountable.

• Decisions are made based on the perceived desires of superiors, rather than concern for mission achievement.

• Policies, practices and procedures tend to grow endlessly and to be followed more and more rigidly.

• Senior managers become so insulated from the realities of the front line that they may use stereotypical thinking and out-of-date experience in making decisions.

• Quantitative measurements are favored over qualitative measurements, so the concentration is on quantities of output, with less and less concern for quality of output.

• Both employees and customers are treated more as numbers than people. Personal issues and human needs are ignored or discounted.

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