Humanocracy vs Bureaucracy

After last week’s blog that outlined the disruption reflections: 10 key takeouts, a lot of the feedback I received centred on how the Covid crisis may, or may not, loosen the grip of bureaucracy. As Melbourne’s CBD has become a ghost town as Dan Andrew’s announced Stage 4 restrictions it is vital that the trust that we have equipped our employees with is not only maintained but amplified as we work through this unprecedented challenge. In the short run, a crisis inevitably shifts power to the periphery, but history suggests bureaucracy has an amazing ability to reassert itself once a crisis wanes. We have to fight against this with all our might.

“We need to create organisations as amazing as the people inside them”Gary Hamel

In the wake of the previous Global Financial Crisis, the growth of bureaucracy briefly went into reverse, but was soon back on its long term, upward trend. It’s unlikely Covid will be different. If we don’t stand for humanocracy over bureaucracy. 

Covid may, of course, create a long-term increase in the number of people working offsite, but that will do little to change the fundamental nature of our organizations. If we don’t ignite the passion from within and spark the imagination of every employee. It is time for organizations to abandon their bureaucratic ways and bring humanity back into the workplace. 

Even before COVID, millions of people were working remotely. As they can tell you, working from home doesn’t protect you from an unreasonable boss, doesn’t give you the power to direct your own career, doesn’t make your company feel like a family, doesn’t reduce the friction in getting your ideas heard, and doesn’t give you a bigger financial upside in your business.Remote work, like previous “cures” for workplace blues—open offices, flexitime, onsite gyms, etc.—may be a welcome advance for employees, but it doesn’t change the fundamental DNA of management. It doesn’t make our organizations more adaptable, more inventive, or more daring.

The Covid crisis has been an incredibly demanding test of institutional resilience—but it won’t do the work of uninstalling bureaucracy for us. Ultimately, there’s no way we can escape our responsibility for building organizations that elicit and merit the best that human beings can give. And when we do so, our organizations will be far better equipped to navigate a world of unprecedented challenges and light speed change.

In a world of daunting challenges and accelerating change, our bureaucracy-encrusted organizations are no longer fit for purpose. They undermine adaptability, frustrate innovation and squander initiative.

It’s time for something better—something that maximizes human contribution, not compliance. A vision that companies like Swisse have embarked upon.

In a world where humanocracy is valued more than bureaucracy, organisations:

In my time working with some amazing organisations I’ve been blessed to work with an amazing group of organizational buccaneers. They’ve taught me that with courage, compassion and contrarian thinking, anyone can launch a campaign aimed at creating a workplace that’s 100% human and 0% bureaucracy. So if you’re ready to build an organization that’s fully capable and fully human, I invite you to get started now, with Humanocracy.

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