Love order, hate bureaucracy

One of the great misperceptions about rebels at work is that we are trying to change everything. Not so. Most of us focus on the things that get in the way of  achieving things that matter, and suggest better ways. We are not anarchists or people who want to reinvent every wheel.  We're much too practical to change what's working well.

We do, however, put a lot of effort against eliminating bureaucratic rules and widely accepted business practices that slow down progress without adding any value.

Bureaucracy creeps in slowly. Consensus bloats processes.  The "need to know" inflates what needs to be included in standard reports. Legal and quality control "extra safeguards" minimize risk and maximize time to completion, often putting companies at competitive risk.  Insecure  or inexperienced people add more layers instead of revising what exists.  Some duplicitous types create bureaucracy to confuse and hide unscrupulous business practices.

After a while few people inside the organization can see what's dragging things down or maybe can't even understand what the regulation or rule means.  Or, they don't know how to fix it.  That's where the value of rebels comes in.  Unlike troublemakers who rail and rant about how screwed up things are, we are often bureaucratic fixers.

Create clarity from complexity. Love order, hate bureaucracy.

As a lifelong rebel, one of my personal mantras has been, "Create clarity from complexity."  With clarity you can better see what matters, clear away the extraneous bureaucracy and useless processes, and get to valued outcomes faster.  When I look back over my career as a rebel at work this is the thing I do best: creating clarity.

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure to spend a couple of hours talking about rebels with Lars Bjork, the CEO of QlikTech. (FYI: Lars considers himself a rebel and is a CEO who values rebels.) His mantra: "Love order, hate bureaucracy."

"Order is where you put a process into place because you want to scale the business to a different level," he says.  "Bureaucracy is where nobody understands why you do it."

Order is necessary for organizations and systems to function. But what we need is provisional order.  In other words, the order works for now but will be changed as circumstances evolve and change as they always do.

One role of rebels is of simplicity analyst, diagnosing how the order -- rules, processes, regulations, systems, cultural norms -- needs to change to serve the organization's desired outcomes, and recommending new types of order that can help rather than hinder desired outcomes.

Who you gonna call?

This morning I was thinking of the "Ghostbusters" soundtrack and started to think of rebels and bureaucracy.

If there’s something strange In your neighborhood company Who you gonna call (Ghostbusters)  Your rebels If there’s something weird And it don’t look good Who you gonna call (Ghostbusters)  Your rebels

I ain’t afraid of no ghost  bureaucracy I ain’t afraid of no ghost bureaucracy