"When people are ignorant, they build committees and processes to hide it!" a retired colleague (PD) commented.

It's not always that bad. Sometimes committees are valuable — in building consensus, in bringing disparate organizations together, or in helping to lift distributed knowledge to the surface where it can be used. Sometimes processes are valuable — in formalizing and organizing what was a chaotic situation, or in adding reliability and responsibility to the delivery of a critical service.

But too often, not. Committees are frequently a waste of time for all involved. Processes are turned into a wall to keep the customer out, to protect a non-responsive bureaucracy. "You can't do that without a permit" ... "You have to send in your request for change to the Review Board" ... "Your application for service will be considered at our next quarterly meeting" ... etc.

Clients complain to no effect. Nothing gets delivered, yet nobody gets fired. Eventually, perhaps, the deck is shuffled, the outfit reorganizes, and things improve — at least for a while. But without high-level attention (or a catastrophic failure) dysfunctional modules of an organization can survive (and even grow) for an amazingly long time. They've evolved defense mechanisms against doing their real job, and against detection of their failure.

Wednesday, August 09, 2000 at 06:31:54 (EDT) = 2000-08-09


(correlates: StatusGenetics, RecombinationEra, SeeingThought, ...)