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Bureaucracy Formation

Since I’m not a big fan of bureaucracies, let’s have some fun and see how these resource sucking and dehumanizing orgs are naturally formed right under the noses of the high paid corpo dudes who are ironically “responsible” for keeping costs down. As you’ll see, it may even be worse than you think. The infallible, know-it-all, multi-titled CGHs in charge not only allow their bureaucracy to flourish, they feed and water it as a result of the unconscious and self-centered need for ego expansion.

Check the figure below out for a hypothetical example of the formation of a bureaucracy over time. As usual, I’ve made the example up (cuz I’m a L’artiste) and I’ve simplistically decomposed a complex org into two group archetypes; product and support. In my obviously wrong dream-world, the otherwise highly esteemed management class is a support group sub-type, of course.

At t=Start, when a vibrant and competent startup org is initialized, there are no “support” groups: nada, zilch. There’s only a product development (or service provider) group that does everything needed to sustain and grow a business around the wealth-creating product (or service).

As time tics by and the fledgling enterprise grows, one support group after another is added as another ring of fat around the product development group core. At the beginning, the support groups are few, and they’re subordinate both in stature and compensation to the wealth creation group because everyone knows that the product and/or service brings home the bacon.

As the org matures, an incredulous flip in the stature structure snaps into place (t=T3 in the example above) because, well, because that’s the way it is. The first of many subsequent support groups to rise in stature is the executive level management cadre. As even more corpo maturation accrues, all emotional enthusiasm and passion is expelled from the org because the same-old, same-old, mechanistic, B-school and Wall Street psychology usurps the childlike and immature “let’s change the world” mindset which birthed the org in the first place. The so-called management leadership cabal catalyzes and accelerates the move to bureaucracy by; treating wealth creators as easily replaceable DICs, punishing any publicly expressed passion and enthusiasm, cloning themselves in newly added middle management layers, and growing their personal empires in order to inflate their pocketbooks and sense of importance at the expense of the org as a whole. Bummer.

“Are you here to build a career or to build an organization?” – Peter Block

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  1. July 13, 2010 at 5:29 am

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