The Badge of Corporate Cowardice

A company jumps into something risky.  The potential reward is high.  There is uncertainty and a bit of fear (of failure, of loss of resources, of humiliation.)

And it works.  The risk pays off in a big way.

The instinct is to then create a bureaucracy to codify the processes that lead to the success.  Except that bureaucracy is the antithesis of risk.  Bureaucracy is policies and procedures, safe budgeting practices, the meticulous collection of data to try to put the genie back into the bottle.  It is designed to ensure success.  It is designed to protect the success of the organization.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with the concepts behind the creation of it.  But agendas, bullet points, lists, micromanagement, time sheets, systems protocols, all of it slowly becomes the day-to-day business of the organization and the risk that started things off in the first place is buried.

The pernicious thing about bureaucracy is that it begins to take over any organization in a way that places the needs and image of the company over loyalty to those who work day in and day out to make the company successful.  It becomes a dark insistence on conformity and the company line.  It slowly presses down upon the people within and attempts to mold them into colorless, opinionless drones and cogs.  Failure to follow this conformist mandate is slowly weeded out until there are no people in the company willing or imaginative to take risks at all.

Risk and fear of failure are what make amazing things happen.  Modifying risk so it isn't scary or that failure will have minimum impact is not risk, it's cowardice.  Bureaucracy is the badge of cowards.