Bureaucratic Thinking Must Go!

by Peter Rose 12 months ago in opinion

Basic way of thinking needs change

Bureaucratic Thinking Must Go!

Bureaucratic thinking must go!

Which style of thinking governs us all?

In most decision-making processes, there are two ways of thinking about the problem: “Bureaucratic” and “Entrepreneurial.”

Due to politicians relying on their civil servants, their administration, otherwise known as the government bureaucracy; the thought process behind the majority of any government's decision-making, and indeed the setting out of laws and rule-making, is the bureaucratic one, and this must end if we are to have better governance. Better democracies.

Bureaucratic thinking is focused on ensuring the least controversy, the least chance of blame being traced to the bureaucrats door. As a hypothetical example; on a duel carriage way, accidents happen due to the variation of speed among the traffic. Some doing 40 MPH some 58 some 65 and others 70. If all were traveling at the same speed, there would be less accidents and less damage. The bureaucrat says make everyone do 40, make all go at the speed of the slowest. Entrepreneurial thinking says the opposite, make all go at 70. Stop speed differentials, and so reduce accidents, by making all go at the same higher speed. This is hypothetical since both solutions are not practical, but it illustrates the difference in thought processes.

This difference in ways of viewing any problem, becomes of greater concern when it comes to interpretation of a political policy. For example, equalisation of wealth within a nation. The bureaucrat says, make everyone poor; this is simple, and any criticise-able consequences can be blamed on political policy, and countered by accusing the critics of being elitist who want to keep the poor downtrodden. Entrepreneurial thinking says generate more income, create more opportunities for the poor to become rich, cut taxes, so while climbing out of poverty, the lowest income people get to keep more of what they do earn. Create more jobs by making start up concerns tax free. Sure the wealthy will benefit, but so will the hard working poor. There are risks attached to this more expansive economic style, but there is a much greater chance of success.

Examine the criminal justice systems of nations with long traditions of administrative governance. The laws are so complex that only years of training enable anyone to begin to understand them. This is bureaucratic thinking at work, this happens when it is allowed to generate its own codes of practice. This type of thinking ensures the exclusion of everyone not homogeneous to this style of thinking. Everything is obscured in jargon, everything is made complicated, all done to ensure no one can blame the drafting on the rules for leaving anything out. In some ways, this is understandable, but the same way of thinking obscures the real intent of the rules, and buries the intention under a mountain of additions, exclusions, and legalistic mumbo jumbo. Entrepreneurial thinking says; keep it simple. What is the intended aim? what are the desired consequences of these rules? Make this clear and simple. Ensure the wording shows the intention, and only the desired intention.

Bureaucratic thinking leads to more rules, more government restrictions, more people to be paid from taxation, more administration, and more delays in any decision-making process. Entrepreneurial thinking says, make someone, who actually knows about the problem, responsible for solving it. Give them the power and the funds to make changes, and then hold them responsible for any success or failure. Bureaucrats hate personal responsibility, all must be done by committees, and even the make up of that committee has to be decided by another committee, so no personal responsibility can be apportioned. Even when, often if, the committee reach a decision about the problem, further oversight by yet more committees are needed to ensure whatever goes wrong is no one's fault. In the end, the problem is buried under a welter of memoranda, and the costs expand exponentially until the nation cannot afford the solution anyway. To the bureaucrat this does not matter, since they have achieved their aim of appearing to do things, (after all, look at all the extra people they recruited to deal with this!). While the reality is, they ensured nothing is done. This way they can not be blamed for anything.

This appears to get worse with the size of the organisation, I have been told, by a British MP, that trying to deal with any specific issue with the EU is a nightmare of endless committees and oversight referrals, all taking months, then years, and getting nothing done. The UN seems to be about as efficient, and it is noticeable that in Britain, the processes of government have gotten slower and slower. It seems that 100 years ago, decisions could be made in days, but now they take years, just look at large scale infrastructure projects. From initial announcement to completion is now measured in decades, and the costs always end up many multiples of the original estimates. Why? Because bureaucratic thinking is allowed to oversee the projects. If the decision to invest in the infrastructure was taken, and a small team were tasked with completion, as in any commercial project, the process would be completed in a couple of years, and if over-budget, people would lose their jobs.

To save democratic government, we need less government, more efficient government, and a change in the way government employees think.

Peter Rose
Peter Rose
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