The Busting Bureaucracy Hackathon

Instead of 'busting the bureaucracy' let's try blending with and then bending it.

By Peter Rennie on April 3, 2022

First, I think we need to re-think the language of ‘Busting the bureaucracy'. The language and the mindsets we bring to the problem of bureaucracy are important. Bureaucracy - hierarchy will repel attempts to "bust it". For those seeking sustainable change, ‘means and ends’ are important - or to paraphrase Einstein, "We can not solve the problem with mindsets that were created by the problem." In my view it’s better to blend with it and bend it. And how do we do that?

We could start by framing the problem of bureaucracy slightly differently. For example, how is it that bureaucracies give the "bad guy" a leg up and constrain the "good guys"?

Bureaucracies do this by supporting FIBS behaviors. That is, the bad guys are able to; Flatter anyone who is important, Inflate their own contribution. They Break commitments (except to those who are important) and when things go pear shaped they find Scapegoats to evade taking responsibility. The bad guys are those who seek position and status to serve their own egos.

The good guys are those who care about their work and who care about their colleagues. The good guys ROCK. That is; they show Respect to everyone. They Own their part in a problem, They Credit others for good work and Keep commitments. (This is called the FIBS ROCK model)

Here’s one of my favourite quotes published some years ago in the Australian financial press from a master of FIBS behavior. ‘You don’t necessarily get to the top by being a nice guy. The art of undermining competitors remains rife in the workplace. This can range from, "I think he'd be great for the job BUT" to the strategic raising of an eyebrow.’

You can see how it works. With mediocre leadership throughout organizations, (all the surveys indicates this is the case) FIBS people win. The man who made the comment above was very, very successful.

If we see things in terms of how and why the bureaucracy promotes the bad guy over the good guy we can ask how do we make it easier to support the good guy? If you are interested email me . . or check out the Hack 'Want to unleash human potential in others? Then make sure the good guys can flourish. Forget busting the bureaucracy. First blend with it. Then bend it.'

Bureaucracy makes my job harder or easier by... 

Other people have contributed some wonderful ideas already. So to be brief:
One of my favourite quotes comes from Theodore Zeldin. ‘In most meetings pride or caution forbids people from saying what they feel most deeply.’

It means that most people don’t bring who they really are to work.
I don’t see how technology is going to overcome this problem. I think we need to look in another direction.

If you are interested you might find the following two 'comments' I have recently written on the MIX Fix worth a look. One was written in response to Polly LaBarre's Unlimited Human Potential Challenge. The second was a comment written in response to the Polly LaBarre / Bob Sutton interview. (I am sorry I haven’t been able to find the links) If you have difficulty please email me again at

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