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14 Ideas for Busting Bureaucracy

by Polly LaBarre on January 11, 2012


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14 Ideas for Busting Bureaucracy

Everybody hates it, but so much of life is ruled by it: bureaucracy. It's time to bust up the ideology of control that has infiltrated every aspect of organizational life.

That's why we launched the Beyond Bureaucracy Challenge (the second leg of the HBR/McKinsey M-Prize for Management Innovation)--a call for inspiring stories, bold ideas, and instructive experiments that demonstrate what can happen when you scrap compliance, conformance, and predictability for freedom, passion, and dynamism.

We asked management innovators around the world to share their stories and hacks about:

    *making organizations more inspiring, engaging, and passion-driven
    *shifting from a top-down to an edge-to-edge orientation
    *managing without managers

In a matter of weeks, we received some 104 entries from around the world that confirmed our belief that there are so many experiments and initiatives going on right now, in every realm of endeavor and every part of the world, that advance the cause of making all organizations more resilient, inventive, inspiring, and accountable.

We heard from CEOs, courageous in-the-trenches innovators, startup leaders, and social entrepreneurs alike. And from far afield as Japan, Norway, Wisconsin, Silicon Valley, Europe, and Mexico. The stories and hacks are as richly varied. They explore:

--how to transform an entire organization with an eclectic portfolio of grassroots initiatives

--an experimental design for rethinking the traditional career by building retirement into work and work into retirement

--what happens when you abolish traditional budgets and planning calendars

--how the simplest daily practice can contribute to profound organizational transformation

--what it takes to build a rich social fabric in a vast global organization

And so much more. Here is the complete list of Beyond Bureaucracy Challenge finalists (in alphabetical order):

WeOrg: The Freedom to Choose
Story by Dan Bean, Robert Musson, and Chermaine Li

Taking reality seriously - towards a more self-regulating management model at Statoil
Story by Bjarte Bogsnes

Managing Beyond the Organizational Hierarchy with Communities and Social Networks at Electronic Arts
Story by Michael Cuthrell

Social Architecture (a manifesto)
Hack by Luc Galoppin

Roche: From Oversight to Insight
Story by Paul Lambert

4 tactics to change from directive leadership to a self-correcting organization
Story by Joris Lujke

From bureaucratic, divided, passive and exhausted to productive, creative, autonomous, and happy
Story by Tsukasa Makino

A distributed social workforce drives profit and performance
by Sanjay Mathur, Matt Miles, and Paul Karayan

Inspiring the Future of Work By Unlocking Innovation Through Chaos, Creativity and Collaboration
Story by Derek Neighbors

Packaging up Management Innovation
Story by Deborah Mills-Scofield

Retire-a-Little: Enabling More Fulfilled Working Lives
Hack by Ricardo Semler

Cutting through BigBlue Tape: Using Collective Passion to Scissor Bureaucracy at IBM
Story by Rawn Shah, Jeanne Murray, and Younghee Overly

Growing People: The Heart of the Organizational Transformation
Story by Pamela Weiss and Todd Pierce

Cutting the cord: Vodafone UK's revolutionary approach to mobility, flexibility & productivity
Story by Richard Wray


We hope you'll take a look at these stories and hacks--and take the time to comment and vote on them. Among other considerations, finalists will be judged on how much they develop their entries and how responsive they are to comments, questions, and suggestions from their peers.

Finalists have until Wednesday, February 1, 2012 to update their entries. Watch this space for the announcement of the winners soon thereafter and the launch of the third and final leg of the HBR/McKinsey M-Prize.

Congratulations to the finalists and a huge thanks to all of you who contributed great stories and hacks in this round and added your voice in the comments and builds. Thank you for helping to make our organizations more inspiring, open, and free.


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