Busting Bureaucracy

Since 1983, the size of the bureaucratic class—the number of managers and administrators in the US workforce—has more than doubled, while employment in other categories has grown by only 40%.

Peter Drucker thought bureaucracy would contract as the knowledge economy grew. In 1988 he predicted that by 2008, “the typical large business would have fewer than half the levels of man­agement of its counterpart at the time, and only a third as many managers.” Well, that didn’t happen.

Some believe bureaucracy is inevitable. They’re wrong.  Dig inside Haier, Morning Star, Nucor Steel, Svenska Handelsbanken, the Linux Foundation, or the Atlas project at the Large Hadron Col­lider, and you’ll discover organizations of enormous scale and complexity that are mostly bureau­cracy-free.

If we’re stuck, it’s not because we lack role models. We have enough exemplars to know it’s pos­sible to buy the blessings of bureaucracy duty-free. You can achieve control, coordination and consistency without consuming 30% of human labor in bureaucratic paper shuffling.

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