The "B" Word
In my world, I walk on the razor's edge balancing organizational effectiveness through amazing policies and vetted procedures with organizational ineffectiveness due to well meaning polices and the "we have always done it that way" procedures. Brace yourself; I am a bureaucrat. Ouch, I know! Bureaucracy is such a curse word in my mind. How devastating it was for me when I realized I am what what I detest. A bureac... argh do I have to say it? A bureaucrat!
It is one of my favorite stories that I tell, I detest bureaucracy and all the red tape that inherently comes with it until I woke up one day and realized that I am one! I know, I know! There is a time and place for the well written policies that guide our operations and help us to consistently meet the needs of our customer base. However there are times that I get so choked up in well intended red-tape that I fell like I was going to be strangled to a point of futility despite of my best efforts to wrangle free from the well intentioned fetters.
Yes, I truly believe that the fetters that are applied to most of our high performing local government brothers and sisters are primarily well intended. They exist to keep us on the straight and narrow and help us provide a consistent service to our customers. I get it, and I appreciate the good intentions, but the restrictions are super frustrating for someone like me who desires to achieve and get things done. You see, I am just the opposite of a "Chief Idea Killer."
The picture shared above is somewhat comical and disturbing. It is very funny to see my pubic servant life in this fictional organizational chart. However, its disturbing because sometimes I feel like I am working against this culture inside my own. It does not align with my mission nor does it align with my strengths. Thus, I strive to work within the system and challenge others to minimize and mitigate bureaucratic obstacles whenever possible. I encourage others and inspire them and myself to consider why we do things certain ways and dig deep to see if we can alter our paths in order to provide a better less bureaucratic service to our customers.
In essence, we need to see the rules, guidelines, ordinances, and statutes as tools that we can use to better serve our customers not as restrictions on us to destroy or greatly inhibit our agility and creativity. The red tape conundrum is real. I know I work hard on cutting the tape, but I also create more of it even as I am cutting it. My plea to my fellow local government brothers and sisters is to be mindful of the red tape you are creating. It may create a sense of security and safety in the structure it provides, but it also may be binding you and your team and severely impacting you ability to truly do what most of us want to do: to serve our customers with awesomeness.
In sum, be kind. My name is Jim Arndt and I am a bureaucrat. I hated bureaucracy until I realized I am one. Now I work hard daily from within the cogs of the machine to reduce the impact of bureaucratic tendencies and increase customer satisfaction.