Multipliers’ Transformational Effect On Bureaucracies

Dan Sullivan

Looking at the existing structures of our modern societies — especially the bureaucratic structures of education and employment — you can see why so many people never develop themselves as creators of multipliers: They work in tightly controlled structures and processes that allow little or no room for personal initiative. They’re expected to do work designed entirely by other people. The work is repetitious, and they seldom know what value it’s creating for the overall organization or the outside world.

No one even asks for their ideas about how it could be made more efficient or productive.

Bureaucracies resist multipliers.

It’s impossible to transform these organizations from within. It’s the very nature of bureaucracies to resist multipliers that would upset their internal control structures.

It is, however, possible to change these organizations from the top: If the people in charge of a bureaucratic organization decided to follow the multiplier strategy I described previously, inviting feedback and greater involvement, the individuals around them would quickly and enthusiastically follow suit — or leave.

Once the multiplier strategy is established at the top of an organization, it quickly spreads to other areas. Then its very nature — its capabilities and its results — will start transforming into something much bigger and better.

All transformations start from the top.

The number one person in the organization has to make the decision to start increasing their enjoyable work and decreasing their involvement in everything they don’t like.

From this top person, the approach then spreads to those nearest them who are also able to increase what they love doing. Then it moves downward from there. But the permission to be innovative in one’s work must always come from the top.

Support for innovation.

And it’s not simply a matter of permission. There must also be a method, a process, and a structure for supporting this innovation on a daily basis. Once the person in charge is supported by the innovation process, the use of the process will take hold and expand throughout every level of the organization.

Have you seen this happen?

What examples do you know of where this kind of multiplier strategy transformed a formerly bureaucratic organization? Share your examples in the comments.

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