The Busting Bureaucracy Hackathon

Phase 4: Ideas for Busting Bureaucracy (Part 2)
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Phase 3 Highlights

By Michele Zanini on July 29, 2021

Our hackathon team developed nearly 70 mini-hacks during Phase 3.  In this post, we’ll share a few of the contributions we feel have great potential to be developed further into fully-formed hacks during Phase 3.

Our hackathon team developed nearly 70 mini-hacks during Phase 3.  In this post, we’ll share a few of the contributions we feel have great potential to be developed further into fully-formed hacks during Phase 3.  We picked at least one in each of the eight categories describing the attributes of the post-bureaucratic organization, which the hackathon community developed during Phase 2. 

1. Serve peers and customers—not the boss

Sean Schofield argues that instead of perfecting a product or service that meets all the internal demands (both good and bad), companies should put their best customers on development teams.  The goal—to reinvent products and services from the customer backwards, and overcome the insularity and parochialism that often come with bureaucracy.

2. Break up monolithic structures

Graham Douglas proposes that monolithic structure should be replaced by federated structures of small units.

3. Give everyone a place at the table

Aaron Anderson proposes that instead of being Fiscal hogs,” organizations should allow every employee to have discretionary control (and therefore responsibility) for a slice of the pie.

In his Random Leadership Designator, Alberto Blanco sketches a simple yet radical way to ensure everyone has the opportunity exercise leadership: a randomly selected leader will have the chance to choose and remove a single bureaucratic obstacle that hinders the performance of the team.

Erwin Pfhuler suggests creating an IT platform where decisions of varying levels of strategic importance are crowdsourced to the entire organization.  The rich variety of perspectives from such a participatory approach will ensure that decisions are much more robust.

4. Radically expand the scope of employee autonomy

Phil Weinzimer calls for a systematic approach to delegate authority and decision-making in organizations, supported by an automated enterprise-wide decision support system that provides tips, tools, traps, and successes and failure of teams across the enterprise.

In Follow the model of the professor, Aaron Anderson argues that those involved in managerial work should have the freedom and flexibility to schedule their work, much like university professors do.  This requires organizations to be substantially better than they currently are at a) defining tasks, b) measuring outcomes, and c) holding people accountable.

5. Create meritocracies

In his Ping-Till-Perfect,” Jimmy Van de Putte proposes a technology-supported system that gives any person in an organization the ability to send a “ping,” or heads-up, about a decision he or she believes isn’t right.  The ping is initially sent to the decision-maker, who is given the opportunity to respond.  If the “pinger” isn’t satisfied with the response, the ping gets progressively escalated up the chain.

6. Provide open access to real-time information

Julian Wilson argues that meritocracy and other attributes of the post-bureaucratic organizations can only be enabled with objective performance measures.  In his mini-hack, he suggests focusing on a small set of simple, outcome-based measures that apply to everyone equally.

7. Drive performance through a shared sense of purpose and community

Edna Pasher highlights the critical role that self-organized communities of practice can have in busting the silos of bureaucracy and in unleashing an organization’s untapped expertise and energy.

8. Ditch formality. 

Dave Ungar argues that organizations should adopt much more flexible decisions rules and guidelines that can be changed to reflect the processes that are working and resonate with workers.  This can be done by using an “Urban Dictonary” model that enables people to propose changes to existing rules and have those proposals peer reviewed.  

In Values beat formality,” Erwin Pfhuler suggest that organizations should do a thorough review of their formal rules and assess the degree to which each rule adds value.  The idea is to minimize the degree to which formal rules drive behavior, and generate much more flexibility, agility, and efficiency.

We wanted to thank everyone who contributed to Phase 3 with thoughtful mini-hacks, likes and comments.   Keep in mind that Phase 4 is not strictly limited to these 12 hacks—if you’d like to add your idea to this list and build it our further in August and early September, please get in touch with us.

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Congratulations to all who made it here ! For the other's like me we are in the same boat and shall learn from others to march ahead .