“Upending cultural norms isn’t easy. It takes courage, a dose of righteous indignation, and, perhaps most critical, data. People pay attention to things that can be measured. To dismantle bureaucracy, then, the first step is to be honest about how much it’s costing your organization. These costs fall into seven categories:
o Bloat: too many managers, administrators, and management layers
o Friction: too much busywork that slows down decision making
o Insularity: too much time spent on internal issues
o Disempowerment: too many constraints on autonomy
o Risk Aversion: too many barriers to risk taking
o Inertia: too many impediments to proactive change
o Politics: too much energy devoted to gaining power and influence
Not all of these costs can be easily measured, but that shouldn’t deter you from working to calculate your organization’s bureaucratic burden. We call it BMI, or bureaucracy mass index.”
According to James O’Toole, the strongest resistance to change initiatives is cultural in nature: “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”
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Here is a direct link to an assessment exercize and the remainder of this article.
Gary Hamel is visiting professor at London Business School and cofounder of The Management Innovation Exchange. His latest book is What Matters Now.
Michele Zanini is the Managing Director of the Management Lab and co-founder of the Management Innovation eXchange, a pioneering effort to reinvent management by harnessing the power of open innovation.