If an organization is looking at innovation as “an initiative”, and it introduces that initiative into a culture that doesn’t support innovation, then the culture will sooner or later crush the initiative usually sooner.

How bureaucracy kills innovation

“I have never met a CEO who thinks bureaucracy is a good idea, but I have rarely met one with a plan to kill it,” the leading management strategist tells The Irish Times before addressing the recent Global Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna.

Bureaucracy places unnecessary limits on the thinking and actions of individuals confronting problems that require a new solution. It prevents new ideas from emerging or even being considered.

Bureaucracy is like communism. The best example of communism is North Korea, arguably the most repressive country in the world. This is a country where if you say anything against the government, you would likely go to jail or worse. Even complaining about the constant food shortages can get you arrested and sent to a slave work camp, along with your family. While bureaucratic organizations are obviously not as extreme, some are on the same restrictive spectrum.  

“Bureaucracy destroys initiative. There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept. Who enjoys appearing inept?” — Frank Herbert, Heretics of Dune

Bureaucracy slow down decisions, remove authority from the people doing the work, and crush motivation. They frustrate innovation, breed inertia, and generally create companies where the biggest goal of most employees is to simply make it through the day.

If we consider tyrannical governments as those who aren’t accountable for their actions, then a bureaucracy would be the most tyrannical of all. Everyone operates in a mindless mode, slave to orders and procedures.

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