It's time to reinvent management. You can help.
ghanshyam-sharan-singh's picture

Influence of Bureaucracy on Business Process

I see bureaucracy in my organization in... 

This may not be specific to an Organization but my experience is that all the Best Practices and Business Processes adopted in an organization are supportive to bureaucracy. Be it Delivery Process, Research Process, Management Process or Marketing Process they all have influence of bureaucratic approach in defining, implementing and monitoring.

Bureaucracy makes my job harder or easier by... 

Bureaucracy in Business Processes make them complex and of compulsive in nature. That is the reason majority of the time process implementation faces direct or indirect resentment at the initial stage. Bureaucratic processes although may not have whole hearted acceptance, for an organization they are the necessity for the governance, product quality and organizational growth.

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polyvios-klimathianakis's picture

We have invented business process to improve bureaucracy efficiency, so indeed a bureaucracy needs the process in order to achieve an objective and bureaucracy offers the necessary coordination, escalation management and approval/control points required for a process to become functional. But bureaucracy is not the only model with these qualities, multi-faceted knowledge based organisations, that value the capacity of the individual and not his hierarchical position offer everything a process needs to become functional without the bureaucratic straitjacketingā€¦

ghanshyam-sharan-singh's picture

I agree that the bureaucracy needs processes to achieve organizational goals and objectives but if the processes have domination of bureaucratic mindset then the result could be disastrous. Having checkpoints and verification / validation embedded in the process framework is indeed a proven methodology as long as they are followed word & spirit. But what if they are not? True that in a knowledge organization where individual matter not the hierarchical position. But are all organization true knowledge organization?

polyvios-klimathianakis's picture

That is the point; you cannot simply replace bureaucracy with nothing, and as you say process domination will be disastrous, so we need a minimum management structure but we should avoid confining every single resource in boxes, micromanaging people and ignoring their individual qualities and knowledge.
Ideally we could have a small management pyramid "controlling" knowledge profiles and not the individuals. Applying a process in such an environment will create ad-hoc "soft" hierarchies combining both the strength of the traditional bureaucratic structure with the optimal use of resources.
To answer your question, I believe that perhaps with few exceptions only in start-ups or small SMEs where everybody knows everybody else you can find knowledge organisations. In my opinion the first step in taking down bureaucracy is to know the humans that constitute its structure. Organisations that value the individual and constantly tracking its development are in the best position to break-off from the bureaucratic chains.

michele-zanini_4's picture

Ghanshyam and Polivios, thanks for contributing to such a rich thread. Based on what I've seen at companies like WL Gore, Whole Foods, Morning Star, and others, I think there are alternatives to bureaucracy that preserve the benefits (discipline, efficiency) without the costs (incrementalism, inertia). Why not, for instance...

1. Rely on peer-to-peer control vs. top down control (e.g., when reviewing people, setting targets)?
2. Have leaders who emerge "naturally" from the bottom (though designation by peers), as opposed to being imposed from the top?
3. Take a "cellular" approach to organization structure, so that if a unit gets over a certain size, it splits into smaller pieces (WL Gore is famous for practicing this method)

thanks again...