From time to time, let everyone in a team exercise leadership by setting up a system that picks a new leader randomly.
The main focus of that randomly selected leader will be to serve their team, from a limited period of time, and to choose and remove a single bureaucratic obstacle that hinders their performance (it could be anything from a time consuming and obsolete approval procedure to an archaic politic, manual and slow processes, among others).
Once such obstacle is removed, it may be the time to hit the random button one more time in order to select another teammate, who will tackle another barrier. This practive may grant people an splendid oportunity to excersise decision-making and to truly collaborate with their team all at the same time.
#1 Leadership is not as sexy as it used to be. In the past, a leader was someone who had the right answer and a clear picture of where to go. Now, as knowledge is being commoditized and the context changes at the speed of light, the leader is losing his seductive mojo. Who would thought that being nowadays a leader (specially if you have been formally appointed in a large organization) might push you on slippery ground where people perceive you as a rigid agent of excessive control?
#2 Bureaucracy is not as effective as it used to be. The operative system that runs today most organizations has more than 90 years. It was designed for a time where solutions were scarce and centralized by few suppliers. No wonder why in this era of solution abundance, bureaucracy is restraining the potential of organizations. If passion and innovation need to be restored, then bureaucracy must be uninstalled.
If you are part of a team, this would be for you:
The random Leadership Designator is a simple experiment you can set along with your team in order to vindicate leadership and its sexiness and smash bureaucracy at the same time.
It could work like this:
From time to time, let everyone in your team exercise [a different interpretation of] leadership by setting up a system that picks a new leader randomly.
The main focus of that randomly selected leader will be to serve the team, from a limited period of time, by choosing and removing a single bureaucratic obstacle that hinders the performance of the team (it could be anything from a time consuming and obsolete approval procedure to an archaic politic, manual and slow processes, among others).
Once such obstacle is removed, it may be the time to hit the random button one more time in order to select another teammate, who will tackle another barrier.
Everyone would have a place at the table. In other words, this practice may grant people an splendid opportunity to exercise decision making and leadership. Moreover, it could increase collaboration, motivation, and stewardship among teams. Needless to say, teams without bureaucratic barriers achieve incredible feats.
Low Morale & Resignation
If you have found this hack somewhat interesting, chances are you have tasted the bitterness of bureaucracy in one or two (or multiple) occasions. In addition, it could also be possible that you, your teammates or your organization at large feel, at this precise moment, a sting of despair, a sensation that "the way things are now" will persist invariably. You must fight that. It should be your first barrier to slay. Moreover, if you feel you are alone, if you think your teammates are running low of energy, or worst, are completely detached from their jobs, then remove the first barrier by yourself. Do it for them, and for you of course.
After all, no one said busting bureaucracy was going to be easy.
Here are 6 steps that might unlock the potential of your team:
Step #1. Defy What Means Leadership
Traditionally, the role of a leader (or a manager) within an organization was to preserve the status quo or "the way things are now". It is time for a different notion of what means leadership.
Here's one suggestion: move from a status quo enforcer to a status quo slayer.
Step #2. Set the System (a Low Resolution Version)
With a different notion of leadership at hand, you can start to device how the Random Leadership Designator would look like.
First, think about the easiest and cheapest way to randomly select people from your team and (optional) randomly select a bureaucratic barrier to be removed. The beauty of this hack is that it requires minimum resources to be implemented. For example, you can just run a quick rock-paper-scissors tournament to find your first leader (slayer). Next, you can invite the leader to choose which barrier he would love to tackle; or select one randomly from a bowl of barriers written in paper.
Second, think about a reasonable timeframe in which leaders should remove the barrier. Keep in mind the particularities and complexity of your organization, team and barriers. For example, for some organizations, a 3-month period would be enough. In your case, would 6 months be ok? Meditate about all of this in advance. Nonetheless, don't feel pressure to have all details perfectly taken care of beforehand. That would be impossible and would add unnecessary pressure on you. You can make sound decisions with your team later on.
Third, prepare yourself for a working session with your team in order to get ready for identifying the bureaucratic barriers and selecting the first leader and barrier.
Step #3. Convoke & Provoke Slayers
Get your team together and show (don't tell) them the mechanics of the system. Then, facilitate a quick and collaborative brainstorming session in order to identify as much barriers as you can. Group and regroup your findings to spot some patterns and relations. Finally, refine and select your list of barriers (Tip: no more than 10 barriers).
Step #4. Roll the Dice & Have Fun
Randomly select your very first slayer. Celebrate! Let the leader decide which barrier he will pulverize (randomly or not). Celebrate and give your blessings to your hero before the battle begins.
Step #5. Let the Leader Defeat His Foe His Own Way
Here you can find some ways that may inspire you.
Step #6. Celebrate & Roll the Dice Again
Repeat step #4 and select a new leader/barrier.
Alberto Blanco & Diana Felibert (edits)
THE SECRET BEHIND APPLE’S INCREDIBLE DESIGN TEAM
4 Myths About Apple Design, From An Ex-Apple Designer
PHASE 1 SYNTHESIS: WHERE THE BUREAUCRACY MANAGEMENT TAX APPEARS IN OUR ORGANIZATIONS
ESCAPING THE MANAGEMENT TAX
PHASE 3 HIGHLIGHTS
BUREAUCRACY-BUSTING STRATEGIES FOR TODAY’S INNOVATION ECONOMY