The $3 Trillion Prize for Busting Bureaucracy

The $3 Trillion Prize for Busting Bureaucracy, by Gary Hamel & Michele Zanini.

Around the world, productivity growth has stalled out. While some hope that a “second machine age” will reverse the slump, we think that wringing bureaucracy out of the economy offers a more promising and less speculative route to boosting productivity.  By our calculations, busting bureaucracy would add $3 trillion to economic growth in the US alone.  Dismantling bureaucracy won’t be easy, but it has to happen—bureaucracy must die. The $3 Trillion Prize provides a detailed blueprint for abolishing the bureaucracy tax in your organization, and everywhere else. …

But like all technologies, bureaucracy is a product of its time. In the century and a half since its invention, much has changed. Today’s employees are skilled, not illiterate; communication is instantaneous rather than tortuous; and the pace of change is exponential rather than glacial. Nevertheless, the foundations of management are still cemented in bureaucracy.

Most organizations still concentrate power in the hands of a few highly paid executives. … Held  hostage  by  this  bureaucratic  legacy, most  organizations  … are unnecessarily  elitist,  overly  politicized,  change-phobic,  and  above  all,  disempowering.

Bureaucracy is kryptonite to productivity. Bureaucracy is growing, not shrinking. We have more bureaucracy than we need.

This is one of the best analyses of the threat to wealth and our freedom, though of course a longish read (the pdf). This could redefine the free-market or traditional values  movement. Many harbor nostalgia for Thatcher and Reagan, but those times are never coming back and too many conservatives are just saying ‘no’ to change. What is needed is a positive vision for the future.

We can talk about bureaucracy as a kind of pollution, that over time is killing us.

Similar to the Greens, we could build an agenda on fighting bureaucracy — as a clean up of society! The Greens like to pretend to be against pollution, but by regulating everything they create a different kind of pollution, bureaucracy, which is suffocating us.

UPDATE: How to topple bureaucracy: It can be a short step from innovative start-up to a company overburdened by red tape.

UPDATE: If constructing an agenda by framing bureaucracy as a kind of “pollution” seems a stretch, consider that the Greens even managed to construct a huge agenda, one that almost pulled off a global coup in Copenhagen in 2009, by convincing the elites that carbon dioxide is “pollution” that endangers us all. It’s not, and the science that bureaucracy is bad for us is far stronger than the case that carbon dioxide is dangerous.