Friday, February 25, 2011

Change: Outwitting the Bureaucrats

If you want to avoid making a major mistake while introducing change in an organization, emphasize process instead of a program. Implement on-going procedures and monitoring mechanisms that will continue long after you and other change advocates have departed.

Boards and bosses are transitory. Projects end. Procedures and systems, however, can have a life of their own and, in most cases, they are long-lived. The seasoned bureaucrats know this. They have seen flashy reformers come and go. The bureaucracy's time-tested strategy involves delay, dodges, confusion, and persistence. They will be glad to let others grab the limelight so long as they retain control of the system.

Their point of strength is also their point of vulnerability. Don't knock your head against the wall of personalities. Save your breath when it comes to declaring grand programs. Quietly change the procedures and the benchmarks. Inject monitoring points that cannot be eluded. Design a new set of rewards and punishments.

Turn the system on itself. They are not counting on that.


Dan Richwine said...

Excellent advice.

Ben Martinez said...


I like the idea of focusing on process instead of programs. By focusing on process it can allow standards to be created and measured.

For example, if I create a new program for X, then how do I improve that program? The program can be improved by improving the process that I use to create the program.

Focusing on the process instead of the program seems to be a good visual.

Nice Post!