For the Love of Bureaucracy
It is hard to find someone who doesn’t bemoan the problems of dealing with bureaucracy: The endless paperwork. The cumbersome processes seemingly designed to frustrate anyone daring to want something done. The daunting number of people who stand between you and your objective. The amount of time necessary to grind through to a simple decision.
Who doesn’t hate it?
And yet. And yet…
We are always looking for ways to make things more efficient. So we design processes in order that no one behind us has to make the same mistakes we did or take unnecessary wrong turns. Over time, these processes are amended and added to make them more comprehensive. And then, suddenly, we find that what should have been a shortcut to excellence has become a cumbersome procedural maze.
We are always looking for ways to assure quality control and customer satisfaction. So we engage quality assurance consultants for manufacturing, buy customer relations management software, and create customer-centric policies. And somewhere along the way, we’ve lost the ability of people on the line to provide on-the-ground innovative insights. And heaven help the customer whose problem or request falls outside the “customer-centric” procedures box.
We are always looking for ways to more precisely target our prospects and effectively communicate with the marketplace. So we design “personas” and concentrate on social media and work on our “content marketing” and mobile marketing strategies. We hire “experts” in these areas; we devote time and resources and follow the playbook on how to “engage.” So now we are faced with the challenge of trying to re-integrate all the ways we have of parsing customer characteristics into an intelligent conversation with a whole human being (which is how the customer sees himself) and ensure that all the media by which we speak to people represent a cohesive view of our companies.
Efficiency is good. Quality control is good. Customer-centrism is good. Marketing and communications precision are good.
But I think we need to step back for a moment.
It just might be that our attempts to reach these laudable goals are actually creating the bureaucratic barriers to achieving them.
So, are we, in fact, the problem?