Four Strategies to Fight Bureaucratic Inertia

March 20, 2012

You have all seen this happen in an organization. New employees are hired, and after a couple weeks they have an idea that might improve both procedures and policies. But in this culture, rules and regulations can often negate ideas that involve procedure and policy. Although good ideas can often overcome current ways of doing things in a multitude of environments, it is through bureaucratic inertia that businesses maintain the status quo. By definition, bureaucratic inertia suggests a very slow pace of change that happens when barriers are encountered.

In a hierarchic structure there is a clear chain of command and departments and teams seldom pollinate each other. This can make it virtually impossible to promote great ideas into results. There are a multitude of gatekeeping levels that are in place to maintain an existing situation. But at the same time, without ideas and subsequent change, organizations can create both conflict and frustration.

It makes no difference if the company is here in Alabama or in another part of the United States. Exhaustive procedures, coupled with authority, control and coordination makes red tape a key aspect of both culture and climate. Because communication is intended mostly for work-driven reporting, it can be a struggle to improve any aspect of product and service.  Individuals will often give up rather than push a solution “up the ladder”. If this sounds familiar, then you can start using the term bureaucratic inertia.

Decision making and problem solving in these types of organizational networks are done safely and with matter of fact. It takes a unique attitude that, coupled with skill, can impact the norm of this type of culture.

The creation of change is essential. Try these Carnegie-driven suggestions to overcome inertia:

  • Focus on the positives that change will bring.
  • Ask for help and support and share the idea.
  • Be patient.
  • Make it a team effort and take action for the benefit of others.

Organizational politics and bureaucracy aside, with the guidance of Carnegie Principles, change without conflict is indeed possible.

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