Saturday, May 31, 2008

The common dysfunction of bureaucracy

Bureaucracy is a first cousin to control because it is perpetuated through unnecessary 'toll booths' that must be stopped at and tolls paid before one can move forward. Bureaucracy is not usually created to control (although sometimes it is) but rather to ensure that right decisions are made and right directions pursued.

Boards that require all items to come to them before decisions are made, or leaders who demand the same from team members, or layers of organizational leadership and oversight often create unhealthy and unnecessary forms of bureaucracy.

I define burearcracy as unnecessary toll booths that need to be negotiated by ministry personnel in order to move forward. Again, leaders have a significant role in whether or not bureaucracy is part of the culture.

Bureaucracy matters because it has a negative impact on the ability of the ministry to make timely ministry decisions, on the level of empowerment leaders and staff feel and therefore on their satisfaction level in their ministry. Where Return on Mission is affected by bureaucracy, it hurts the organization.

1 comment:

Ed said...

Absolutely agree! Are we managing or leading (i.e., coaching, mentoring, discipling)those represented?

Since 2002 the company I work for has been going through an awesome transition from management to leadership and developed a number of front end documents such as; "Guiding Principles of Leadership" and "L3 Living a Legacy of Leadership" and the "Leadership Checklist" to be our guides.

The guiding principles includes an upper level statement, "We measure success by the way we touch the the lives of people."

The L3 document includes many empowering statements, but the main one states, "We commit to a sustained leadership model that creates a culture where each of us returns home with a sense of fulfillment.

The checklist includes twelve sentences intended for the leader to reflect and imagine each day. The first statement on the checklist says, "I accept the awesome responsibility of leadership" and the last statement closes with, "When we engage our heads, hearts, and hands around these habits (the checklist sentences), extraordinary levels of trust and fullfillment will result.

The company I work for is on a journey moving forward while empowering and building trust with the people. We have the power, a vote, and a voice. Yes, there still remains some bureaucracy, but that is not the ultimate vision or target condition of our company.

It is sad when I see our company doing a better job than my church to live principles to make a difference in the lives of people.