Making Bureaucracy Disappear

Making Bureaucracy Disappear (1)

In a side-conversation on #LTHECHAT last night, (15.01.20) @Chrisheadleand suggested that ‘Making Bureaucracy Disappear’ might be the title of my next book. This has got me thinking!

Some of the factors which might be involved in bureaucracy are (in no particular order) control, power, glory, proliferation, slavery, avoiding thinking, metrics, mindlessness (as opposed to mindfulness), University Finance Office practices, timetablers, learning outcomes, anything ending in –EF, mandatory reviews of related literature including all known suspects’ latest, – the list is endless.

I’m minded to exorcise some of the thoughts in my mind by sharing them with anyone who needs distracting from much nobler pursuits than reading them, so here goes…

(1) Control: the power and the glory?

When did bureaucracy start? Why did it start? Will it ever disappear now? How can we work towards less bureaucracy? Right from the start, I guess it was about power and control. Most people want the power of controlling other people (which is unfortunate and unwise on a crowded planet, surely). Nothing, it appears, gives folk more satisfaction than setting up systems which control what other folk do, and how they do it, and when they do it, (whether or not they want to do it, or need to do it). Having designed such systems, the bureaucracy creators (need the right word for this please?) sit back and watch everyone else conforming, and design metrics to estimate how well they conform, how fast they conform, and how effectively they resist the temptation to dare to think of something better than the status quo. ‘Control freakery’ is a much discussed phenomenon now. ‘Give me some slack!’ is often the justified cry of protest.

Wherewith the glory? Just about all bureaucratic inventions grow and flourish for a while – the period of glory for their creators perhaps? But inevitably different ways of doing things overtake the status quo – it’s evolution after all. Often, improvement results, but not always. ‘In the good old days…’ starts many a heartfelt sentence. Time goes on – there’s the real power? We try everything we can to control time, but it controls all of us.

(More to come – unless you discourage me sufficiently!)