Skip to main content

How To Fire All The Bureaucrats


Today I had to take care of a small errand and was struck by the inefficiency with which government works:

  • Before walking in the door, I couldn't figure out which instructions applied to me. I could barely even find them on the website.
  • The appointment system was telephone-based, a frustrating waste of time.
  • Once in the appointment all the forms were paper-based and an ink signature was required.
I am familiar with the government tendency to resist change and avoid new technology until it's absolutely impossible to ignore it.

  • Nobody wants to take a risk and get into trouble.
  • Nobody wants to get automated out of a job.
  • Nobody wants to collaborate if that means losing their power.
These are natural human tendencies and I totally understand them. But they're not productive for our society. In the example above:

  • How much time is going to get wasted manually reviewing and transferring the paper data to a computer system? 
  • How many dead PDFs are we going to create and then try to integrate into a database system down the road? 
  • How many records will we generate now, only to be completely befuddled later as to what matters and what doesn't?

A failure to streamline government is only going to further strain extremely large socio-economic problems that are about to get much, much worse:
  1. Automation will end most demand for human labor – manual, administrative, even customer service.
  2. The end of jobs will trigger a corresponding rise in need for social services.
  3. True competition will become impossible in an economy controlled by the wealthy and powerful few.
  4. Interconnected, integrated, interoperable, easily accessed Big Data will eradicate the possibility of privacy. 
  5. Small terrorist cells with dangerous weapons will finally be taken seriously for the grave threat they pose.
The way to handle these problem is fairly straightforward but will require a big change in attitude to adjust to. We're not going to be able to live the same way anymore. For example, kids aren't going to graduate college with the expectation of a job. It's just not happening. So here's what we as a society have to do in order to adapt. These are very broad general approaches, I'll leave it to others to figure out the details.
  1. Get ahead of the curve and stop reacting defensively. The risk of not acting is bigger than the risk of the status quo.
  2. Stop quibbling over details and unite around a broadly shared vision of progress. Nobody wins with all the divisiveness.
  3. Use commercial, off-the-shelf technology to the maximum extent possible. There is no excuse to be dragging our feet on this.
  4. Protect civil rights, dissent and privacy; promote transparency; form fully independent external bodies to regulate the regulators.
  5. Incorporate strong security practices into everything we do. There are a lot of people who want to foment and take advantage of chaos, to steal our freedom and our lives along with it.
Government workers secretly fear that their jobs will become irrelevant in the new economy. That may be true in some cases. But it's probably more true that our role will evolve:
  1. To rebalance major power inequities and promote national competitiveness through a whole-of-society approach to the major issues that confront us.
  2. To protect people's rights and make sure that vulnerable populations are supported.
  3. To maintain social order and prevent chaos from breaking out.
As we go about our day-to-day lives it's really easy to stick our heads in the sand and let others worry about the problems. But at some point you look around and realize it's you that's got the football. And that your standing there at a press conference, with no excuse as to why you've let it deflate.
___

Photo by Me and the Sysop via Flickr. All opinions my own.

Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between brand equity and brand parity?

Brand equity is a financial calculation. It is the difference between a commodity product or service and a branded one. For example if you sell a plain orange for $.50 but a Sunkist orange for $.75 and the Sunkist orange has brand equity you can calculate it at $.25 per orange.

Brand parity exists when two different brands have a relatively equal value. The reason we call it "parity" is that the basis of their value may be different. For example, one brand may be seen as higher in quality, while the other is perceived as fashionable.

________________
All opinions my own. Originally posted to Quora. Public domain photo by hbieser via Pixabay.

What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.Br…

Nitro Cold Brew and the Oncoming Crash of Starbucks

A long time ago (January 7, 2008), the Wall Street Journal ran an article about McDonald's competing against Starbucks.
At the time the issue was that the former planned to pit its own deluxe coffees head to head with the latter.
At the time I wrote that while Starbucks could be confident in its brand-loyal consumers, the company, my personal favorite brand of all time,  "...needs to see this as a major warning signal. As I have said before, it is time to reinvent the brand — now.  "Starbucks should consider killing its own brand and resurrecting it as something even better — the ultimate, uncopyable 'third space' that is suited for the way we live now.  "There is no growth left for Starbucks as it stands anymore — it has saturated the market. It is time to do something daring, different, and better — astounding and delighting the millions (billions?) of dedicated Starbucks fans out there who are rooting for the brand to survive and succeed." Today as …