Do you have energy vampires in your organisation?
When I read this recent article from the HBR blog How to stop people who bring things down with bureaucracy I couldn’t believe how it totally nailed many of the more motivation sapping experiences of academic and commercial life.
Author James Allen describes ‘energy vampires’ who create diversionary none value add activities.
These activities however well intentioned adversely diminish the energy and action that should be devoted to the creation of customer value.
Of course most organisations need some systems and processes to function. Sociologist Max Weber pointed this out years ago. The problem occurs when bureaucracy becomes self serving and self perpetuating. Bureacracy can be characterised by mindless demands for information, defensive records of decisions and actions – ‘just in case’ something bad happens, a form for this a form for that, multiple sign off forms, lots of data creation and little insight and information agility.
One of foremost writers and researchers on Bureacracy is David Graeber author of The Utopia of Rules. He recently wrote an article for Times Higher titled Why Won’t Academics Break Their Paper Chains.
I would recommend any business person to read his work to see what can happen in large organisations when the value creating imperative of the business is smothered by bureaucracy.
One on the central themes in our forthcoming book Value:ology is about the value creating and proposing capability of people in your company. With Co-authors Simon Kelly of Sheffield Business School and Stacey Danheiser of Shake Marketing we emphasise that without a dedicated focus on value creating activity you will waste time, money and energy on irrelevancies.
So can you spot the tell tale sales of value smothering in your business? James Allen gives a clue when he says watch out for people that:
‘….fire off lots of missives that force your people to stop serving the customer and instead respond to yet another information request’