Bureaucracy

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So I talked last week about how Accenture shared its knowledge internally over twenty years ago.  They still share knowledge today, but this time externally as well.  For example, “The Employee You Can’t Afford To Lose“.  While the report is focused on high tech companies, the concepts hold true for pretty much every type of company.

  • People are leaving the old-fashioned company and are going to the newer companies
  • Once they leave they rarely come back
  • People of all ages are leaving, not just the GenX or Millenials


The Government of Alberta is also affected by these factors.  They don’t have nearly enough new blood coming into the government to revitalize it, to breathe new life into an old institution, to make government relevant to a new generation.  What is it that organizations do to attract new people?  Accenture has a short list:

  • Walk the talk. Leaders must set the vision and foster a culture of experimentation and collaboration by embodying the attributes they hope to inspire among their employees.
  • Become a change master. . must flatten structures, reduce spans of control, and break down silos.
  • Offer “gig-like” experiences. . need to understand what workers expect from their employers. Project-based “gig experiences,” personalized talent strategies, and career paths that encourage lateral and upward moves make the difference.

The “flatten structures” is an interesting comment.  In a report from 2016 entitled “Government of Alberta Provincial IMT Strategic Plan IMT Governance Model Options Project” one of the Principles of IMT Governance Design is identified as:

Avoid too much bureaucracy – minimize number of levels

Forrester in an article entitled “Business Agility Starts With Your People” said that “these flatter organizations make decisions more quickly and are organized around the customer“.  Harvard Business Review, in an article entitled “Hierarchy is Overrated”  said that “Firms organized with a flat structure tend to be much more innovative” and they followed it up with “organizations with flat structures outperform those with more traditional hierarchies in most situations“.  And it has been said by Gary Hamel, Professor at the London Business School that an “excess of bureaucracy costs the U.S. economy more than $3 trillion in lost economic output“.  These structures cost money.

There is plethora of data that says, quite unequivocally, that bureaucracy, the hierarchical structures into which we place ourselves in the government is bad for productivity, bad for innovation and bad for the citizens.

And yet, when you think of government, not just the Government of Alberta, but municipal and federal governments throughout the world, the word bureaucracy comes to mind.  But not just bureaucracy, but an entitled bureaucracy.  And that is why people don’t come to the government for a future.

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