Once upon a time, Scott Adams was just another cog in the wheel of Corporate America. As boredom descended on him during middle manager meetings, he entertained himself by drawing insulting cartoons of his coworkers and bosses. And there began Dilbert, now appearing in 2,000 newspapers worldwide. And much could be written about Scott Adams and his Dilbert Empire, and his thoughts on forming The Economics Party where all political decisions would be based on economics. Well except for the case of humanitarian causes. But not now. Perhaps Dilbert’s popularity is due to some level of disrespect for middle managers and the bureaucracy they bring to bear on employees everywhere. All those procedures and forms are thought to stunt creativity, getting in the way of the “real” work of the company. But now results of a new study show that bureaucracy might actually be critical to business success.
It turns out that cotton weaving factories in Mumbai were essentially a world without managers. Analysts studying this type of bureaucracy-free management system discovered store rooms full of rotting yarn. A worker in search of a specific color or other necessary production item had to rummage about on the floor because there was not an evident organization by color and type. Hallways were blocked with machinery. Then there were the discarded tools and essentially a chaotic mess of no place for anything and nothing in its place. But it isn’t just India. There are numerous places with this approach. And ultimately, it is thought to be an unsustainable business model. Organization, tracking and analysis are keys to business success. On the other hand too much of it can be miserable. Somewhere there is a middle ground.
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