Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bureaucracy Can Be a Good Thing

So Zappos decided to restructure it's managerial duties in an attempt to curtail bureaucratic inflexibility. That's interesting. I don't really know enough about the company or even really business administration to argue if it's a good or bad move. But it does give me an excuse to talk about something that's been swirling around in my head for a while. Bureaucracy can be good!

Having become synonymous with red tape and warehouses of veteran applications i.e. a failure of bureaucracy. A lot of people don't see the benefits of bureaucracy, the reasons why millennia ago it was developed, information, accountability and process.

Information and Record Keeping
One of the great roles of the bureaucracy is to create records. Defending record keeping would basically mean defending writing, accounting, legal precedent, and the scientific method. Do I really need to do that. We've already figured that out.

Record keeping allows for the preservation of knowledge when the human origin of that knowledge is no longer on hand, whether it be through the failure of memory, geography, or even death. We have the ability to gaze into the past and make current decisions based on past events. My knowledge does not have to die with me.

When I say accountability here I don't mean the doling out of blame, I merely mean the ability to examine past mistakes and learn from them. General James Mattis said this in a letter
The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s
experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a
better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of
incompetence are so final for young men.
I would like to compliment his wisdom by saying that taking moment to create and preserve records of events allows for both you and your associates in the future to learn from them possibly even avoiding thier repetition if negative and recreating them if positive.

All of human history is trial and error. The first mistake is always unavoidable, but all others would not be if the first was able to be researched, analyzed, and dissected.

In all field decisions must be made and I have seen so many travesties because nobody had a clear plan as to who was responsible for what. The bureaucracy clearly delineates responsibilities and process so everybody knows what their role in the machine is. Nobody has to spend half a day guessing and then asking someone up the chain, "What am I suppose to be doing right now?" The plan has been laid forth clearly for all. Everybody is aware of the overall project goals, their specific role and responsibilities within those goals, as well as the most practical methodology of those responsibilities.

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