Thoughts on bureaucracy

Bureaucracy has good (wut?) and bad sides.

The good intentions behind of formalizing an activity into a documented process is to reduce variation, reduce possibility for corruption and thus improve scaling. While all good things, there is a price to consider.

Automation has lower flexibility than humans have when it comes to handling exceptional inputs. An unplanned situation breaks automation, when a human can usually adapt and ensure that some progress is made. Bureaucracy takes this flexibility away.

A bureaucratic process is an algorithm to be executed by humans. But humans are slow, many orders of magnitude slower than computers.

Any process done by a human is more likely to introduce errors in the middle. Computers are much more reliable in the middle. They usually break down on errors in input data, but they rarely introduce new errors along the way.

Any automation pays out at certain scale. Below that scale, the overhead of formalization outweighs the benefits of unification.

Bureaucracy creates risk of substituting a real goal with the goal of completing the process. A real goal is usually a change in real world, experienced by real humans. A result of the process is usually a change in some computer database or its paper equivalent.

Written by Grigory Rechistov in Uncategorized on 05.02.2024. Tags: thoughts,

Copyright © 2024 Grigory Rechistov