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« email weirdness, part II | Main | Commentary on customers, or the web? »

Bureaucracy = Death

So, we learn today that the F.A.A. was Alerted on Qaeda in '98, 9/11 Panel Said - New York Times. Cockpit door locks would have saved thousands of lives.

A good friend is speaking at a major philanthropy conference and the organizers won't permit him to distribute a one page flyer about his organization. They are "too busy" to approve it.

Gave a talk to a pharma company last week, and the marketers there are wringing their hands because of the sea change in the way people view their work. No, they're not evil. Yes, the mindless bureaucracy continued to grind out products and ads and policies that weren't in anyone's best interest.

The victims of New Orleans know firsthand what happens when a large bureaucracy with lots of money and not enough responsibility fails to action when it should.

And what does all this have to do with marketing?

Easy.

Very little remarkable comes out of bureaucracies for a simple reason. The members of the bureaucracy seek to be beyond reproach. Reproach is their nightmare, their enemy, the thing to avoid at all costs. And the remarkable feels like a risk.

Here's an idea I wrote about in a book a long time ago:

Appoint a CNO—chief no officer. No longer can someone say no to an idea and leave it at that. If you want to turn something down, you’ve got to pass it on to your boss. Then either he says yes or gives it to his boss. For a "no" to be official, it’s got to be approved by the chief no officer and countersigned by every manager along the way.

So, what would have happened if the FAA or FEMA had a CNO? Who would have had the guts to turn down cockpit door locks if saying "no" meant the idea would go upstairs?

And what happens to any organization that creates a culture where maintaining the status quo requires your boss to give you the okay?

Of course, it's not this simple. But the very act of talking about it helps people focus on what's killing their organization. I don't care if you're in radio, packaged goods, organized religion or an online merchant. If you're not saying yes to change, you're slowly losing whatever race you happen to be in.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Bureaucracy = Death:

» Seths Blog: Bureaucracy = Death from Brewed Fresh Daily
Seth Godin rehashes an old idea, adding new comments about FEMA, asking what happens to any organization that creates a culture where maintaining the status quo requires your boss to give you the okay? Appoint a CNO—chief no officer. ... [Read More]

» Seth's: Bureaucracy = Death from erniesblog – use a stick
Today, without writing about ad creative specifically, Seth Godin points out the number one killer of decent advertising: Seth's Blog: Bureaucracy = Death. Bureaucracy on the part of the client. And on the part of the agency. It's interesting to me tha... [Read More]

» Never say "no" from Peter Darling -- Business Development for Professional Services Firms
I'm in the middle of writing the September newsletter, which is about being rejected. And it got me to thinking about people who say "no". More often than we'd like [Read More]

» New Marketing via Social Software from Ideascape, innovation platform, collaboration, cooperative strategies
As any business person knows, connecting your offerings with buyers/customers - marketing - is how you stay in business. Seth Godin writes in a post, Bureaucracy = Death... [Read More]

» Bureaucracy Sucks! from StratBlog
In Bureaucracy = Death, Seth Godin talks about bureaucracy related to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, and presents a nice, but unworkable, idea to bust bureacuracy. Seths Analysis: Very little remarkable comes out of bureaucracies for a s... [Read More]

» Seth Godin on Bureaucracy from Chris Busch
Sometimes I read a post on the Net and think, Man, I wish I had written that! Such is this post from Seth on Bureaucracy = Death. Enjoy. [Read More]

» Bureaucracy = Death from Gil Friend
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» Managing Bureaucrats from Jack Yoest
Rule Number One: Never Give a Bureaucrat a chance to say no. Morton Blackwell, founder of The Leadership Institute, wrote The Laws of the Public Policy Process that has 45 such pithy points. They are helpful to anyone dealing... [Read More]

» Organism or Organization? from Casual Fridays
Do you work within an organism or an organization? Whats the difference? If one part of the organism hurts, the other parts feel the pain as well. An organism tries to keep its body intact. It prefers to heal rather than amputate. Parts of... [Read More]

» # from Paulbl
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» New Marketing via Social Software from Ideascape: social networks - innovation platform - collaboration
As any business person knows, connecting your offerings with buyers/customers - marketing - is how you stay in business. Seth Godin writes in a post, Bureaucracy = Death... [Read More]

» Chief NO Officer from Madness and Folly
Seth Godin, one of my favorite writers, explores a great idea in jest that I think might be a good idea to jar innovation in some places. Removing the false power of the bureaucrat from saying no, in effect, neuters the structure. If a bureaucrat mus... [Read More]

» Growing Bureaucracies - Increasing Rules from BrainBasedBusiness
Recently I had my white out confiscated at an airport check-in, paid a double co-pay for my regular prescription, saw Google plummet my networks blog score, and watched a major organization order extra invoices in four different methods &n... [Read More]

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