Why do people hate bureaucracy so? I love it.
Bureaucracy is humanity’s greatest invention. It’s what holds the building up. It’s what put the building up in the first place. It put the lights in and keeps them lit.
So what is a bureaucracy? It is an organised and controlled flow of explicit information and decisions of demostrable quality and value, designed to manage the flow of resources, materials and results. What could possibly be more important to any society? Nothing.
Bureaucracy is far more important than writing or even fire. Or at least, it is around here. After all, the Incas managed to have a perfectly good bureaucracy without writing, but I doubt that any great society has ever existed without bureaucracy. And in an industrial society, the vast majority of people only have fire because they first have access to bureaucracy. We get it through vast gas and electricity supply systems, none of which would be thinkable without the organised flow of information and decisions, which is all that bureaucracy is.
Most paradoxical of all – and I make my living out of this paradox – is the idea that we can get rid of bureaucracy by replacing it with computers. But what else is a computer but an electronic bureaucracy? And why else do computers fail in supplanting bureaucracy than for the same reasons that bureaucracy itself fails, namely because we fail to adapt it to its users’ needs? Just think, if only bureaucrats had learned to find out what their users needed and then adjusted their systems to that, there would have been no management consultants.
Who could possibly object to that?