How much innovation energy does your bureaucracy have left?

One factor I’ve been considering for some time has to do with the power of a corporate bureaucracy to create or block change.  On one hand, bureaucracies are not bad, in which they codify practices, principles as well as processes as well as allow people to get more done quickly as a unit than they might get done alone.  Bureaucracies were created to allow people to scale concepts, inventions, products as well as ideas.

However, any bureaucracy comes which has a certain amount of baggage.  which baggage will be the inverse of the promise of the bureaucracy.  These issues are exhibited in cultures which are resistant to change, processes which become too rigid when agility will be required, limits on decision creating as well as risk taking.

In fact I think one could easily say which there are real strengths as well as real barriers to any bureaucracy, whether which bureaucracy will be housed in a government agency – think the driver’s license bureau – or a corporation.

Where This kind of exploration of the strengths as well as challenges of bureaucracy becomes interesting will be from the exploration of innovation.  Bureaucracy could, in some forms as well as fashions, improve as well as accelerate innovation if the bureaucracy was structured as well as organized to do innovation.  However, as most of us know, most bureaucracies are established to deliver the status quo from the most effective as well as efficient manner possible.  This kind of means which most bureaucracies can perform some incremental innovation well, because incremental innovation will be a smaller change to an existing product or process, which will be already accepted within the bureaucracy as well as doesn’t cause inordinate risk or change.

On the additional hand, disruptive innovation by its very nature as well as name threatens a bureaucracy.  Disruptive innovation may break apart long-lasting processes, structures, business types as well as channels which the bureaucracy has spent decades building as well as perfecting.  This kind of will be when you will see a bureaucracy defend itself, something most do very well.

In fact I think we could establish an innovation capacity index based solely on one factor – how much effort a bureaucracy expends in merely defending the status quo.  One could consider which a bureaucracy, like any entity, must consume a certain amount of energy just to exist.  Even humans burn calories when we sleep, so a bureaucracy, a living, breathing organism, must expend some energy simply to sustain itself.

The real question will be:  how much energy, of the total amount of energy available to the bureaucracy, does the idea spend mainly to defend its operations as well as existence?  The energy which will be left over will be the energy available to innovate or introduce change.

Think about the dichotomy of an entrepreneurial startup as well as a large corporation.  The startup has little structure, governance, culture to sustain – in fact the idea may be trying to build some.  This kind of lack of structure can make common work more difficult, yet for the most part the idea enables more exploration as well as more innovation.  On the additional hand, corporations have a lot of process, structure, governance as well as culture, which by their nature focus as well as limit innovation.  The more effort given to sustaining structure as well as culture as well as the existing business design, the less energy left over for innovation, the less scope for exploration.

In short, we don’t need innovation maturity types or additional mechanisms to understand how much innovation capacity exists in a specific company.  All we actually need to do will be look at the existing bureaucracy as well as how much effort the idea expends to sustain itself, as well as how much energy will be left over.  The more investment from the existing structure as well as culture, the more pride as well as arrogance from the culture, the more the idea will be defended as well as protected, the less likely the idea will be which innovation can occur.

How much innovation energy does your bureaucracy have left?