Thursday, March 21, 2013

Changing bureaucracy



It's actually possible...

Great article on changing bureaucracy here:

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/03/innovating_around_a_bureaucrac.html

Since many of us don't get the luxury of sitting somewhere for 5 years, I have my own thoughts on getting change to happen and making it last in a bureaucracy:

- Don't go it alone. It is HARD to get change to happen in a bureaucracy. You need a coalition of folks that will be on your side, especially when the going gets rough and you feel like quitting.

- Have a plan, from now to completion. It's not enough to say "I'm going to make routing paperwork easier" or "I'm going to fix the qualification process." You need some no kidding definite pieces. "Fixing" the qualification process doesn't get people excited, especially your CO or XO who has already seen countless good ideas go down in flames. Having some definite items helps you measure change and show how your ideas are working.

- Get some top cover. I could never have changed our command's qualification program without the top cover of our XO. It required a bit more coordination, but the ability to say "Well, the XO wants it this way" when I received pushback helped me get through difficult parts and make things happen in the end.

- Design your plan to be turned over. We had an officer on my submarine that created an extremely complicated system for performing reactor controls division spot checks. While it was effective and the squadron loved the level of detail, there was only one person that understood the program, and it fell apart as soon as he left. You have to design any change to be incorporated by someone that doesn't necessarily share your vision, or have your level of competence. Sometimes this means making a very in-depth instruction or SOP. Other times it means limiting the scope of the solution, because while you may be able to do it, you know that others won't be as good.

Feel free to add your ideas to the comments.

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