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Saturday, January 10, 2015

What happens when passion for transformation meets attachment to bureaucracy?

It often so happens that your passion to transform the organisation meets with the organisation's love for its status quo. The meeting is like "unstoppable force meets an immovable object". So then how do we transform organisations.

Well, to start the resistance comes from systems - but more from people who love certainty of those systems. These people, called bureaucrats in the book, haven't bought into the reason for change. The selling of change / transformation needs to be increased. The other reason why people resist change is because they see uncertainty beyond the change curtain. Bureaucrats hate uncertainty. 

There are four types of personalities in the organisation - Scouts, Commandos, Bureaucrats, and Leaders. Leaders are those who can flip between the working styles and deploy respective talents properly.

Change makers are usually commandos or scouts - both hate process driven approach. It is the nature of their make-up. These people often operate in uncharted waters therefore they are tuned to working without maps and processes. The resistance they pose comes from premise that they believe the change will not work or that it is ill-conceived. These people are more or less in agreement with need for change but have doubts as to the directions.

When processes seem to be fairly visible you can bring in the bureaucrats. Till such time, bureaucrats are better assigned to working the established lines of business creating window for change.

Some times mistakes happen when we are not looking. 

For example, during the change process if the finance department is fairly tightly controlled by bureaucrats then change is doomed. Expect tough fight for budget sanction and deviation to be questioned seriously. To avoid this, it is better to sandbox the venture.


Another mistake occurs when scouts are left in charge of process formulation. Scouts are absolute worst with this job. They lose interest pretty quickly and resulting process are a mess - a bureaucrat's nightmare. The venture with successful proof of concept goes down the drain as bureaucrats are unable to replicate the success of the commandos.


When change-makers make the change they leave the process formulation to other commandos who may not have bought into the concept of change. It is important that process formulation is done by commando team which has completely bought into the concept of change and/or feels confident enough to make necessary changes in the course of action.