Thursday, September 3, 2009

Coral battles and the slow growth of bureaucracy

I just watched the Blue Planet episode where they show how coral grows and overtakes other coral.

Here's the piece that got me thinking. At 38 seconds there is some fascinating time-lapse footage of one coral overtaking another.

If you were snorkeling or scuba-diving by this fascinating scene, would you notice? I think it would look pretty static and I would swim on by.

Bureaucracy is pretty static too, right? What if we could time-lapse photograph a bureaucracy? What would become apparent that's difficult to see with the naked eye? Speeding up the pace would likely make the slow encroachment of policies, procedures, restrictions and risk aversion look as sinister as this coral. If you sped it up , I think you'd see that the well-intended efforts to influence and control employee behaviour actually kills an employee's discretion and ability to be independently thoughtful.

This progress goes seemingly unnoticed every day. We tend to take for granted, or perhaps we shrug off, the daily insults to our autonomy and ability to be discerning. We choose not to push back. Through time-lapse, we'd see that we're losing the battle. We'd see the bureaucracy move forward so steadily that you'd think it could only be planned.

I don't in any way think it is planned. Rather, I see it stemming from a culture and paradigm of command and control that doesn't work. Those that champion this out-dated style or those who don't stand up against it need to see some time-lapse footage of its effects.

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