Busting Bureaucracy in the Enterprise

Bureaucracy can best be described as a top-down approach to decision making made by an authoritative group void of any direct feedback from the people carrying out the activities.
Today, corporate bureaucracy has the ability to limit productivity and stifle innovative approaches to working more effectively.

We continue to see that technology and innovation have the ability to disrupt and break down bureaucratic walls. However, it would come as a surprise to no one that IT can be perceived as the bureaucratic red tape between technology and productivity. In our own research conducted in partnership with Harvard Business Review, we found that 60 percent of IT executives are focused on reducing and optimizing costs. The march to efficiency can often have negative side effects, such as bureaucracy.

Dell Services and the Management Lab (the “MIX”) are on a relentless mission to understand ways to bust bureaucracy and are sponsoring a crowdsourcing initiative, also called a “hackathon” on the topic. The purpose of this effort is to generate ideas around new management models that impact how IT can help to bust bureaucracy in the enterprise. Below are some early findings we have had as a result of this effort:

Dedicated Tech Strategists: Create a team of dedicated and focused technology strategists to identify, understand and eliminate wasteful areas of bureaucracy. The tech strategists accomplish this by partnering with Lines of Business and collaborating on developing solutions to every-day conflicts and redundancies. These tech strategists have the ability to investigate where technology can take policies and processes that were once thought necessary and make them obsolete.

Partner Early: In order to bust the bureaucracy the team of tech strategists identified it’s critical to involve business partners and internal customers early in the innovation process. The ability to collaborate early with constituents is a key to busting bureaucracy.

Say What You’re Going to Do: One activity that isn’t done often enough — and has the ability to win trust and partnership internally — is to clearly and formally describe the problem, what is needed and the proposed solution. This allows IT executives to communicate openly and frequently about what, when and how they will accomplish the stated objectives. Having the right documentation and ongoing dialogue are critical in order to achieve successful implementation and adoption of the IT project to dismantle bureaucracy.

Do It: In a previous post, Bob Lewis, Business Consultant for Dell Services offered a sincere apology to IT executives, saying that even with the need to create and implement innovation, “Sorry, you don’t get to quit your day job.” IT has to finish projects reliably and on time, and the projects need not only to solve for the busted bureaucracy, but also deliver capabilities that the rest of the business can use.


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