|The Devil’s Advocate™ sounds off on Management
“The people at Head Office are always frantically busy, drawing up reports and flow charts and making appointments to confer with one another.
Recently a reshuffle of senior officials was announced, aimed at streamlining the headquarters operation. Four vice-presidents were replaced by eight vice-presidents and a co-ordinating assistant to the president.
- — Dr Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull, The Peter Principle
The inevitable consequence of scale; when your organisation passes the fulcrum between arsehole risk and tedium risk. It is an event horizon from which there is no return; a kind of Schwarzschild radius of bureaucracy. The thing is you can always find and get rid of — or at least deal with — an arsehole: the more people in your organisation the easier it is to do.
But bureaucracy is a will to entropy; it is a point of flat, tepid equilibrium to which dead organisms converge. It is sticky. Once you have appointed a director of human resources, you are stuck with an HR department until the organisation dies: there is no personnel manager who will ever tell accept one it not needed; and it will can only grow: it will develop “competencies”: it will institute performance appraisal systems; create then outsource and manage talent acquisition and retention programmes; it will develop future leadership courses and will appoint itself as sole competence for environmental and social governance and diversity and inclusion, to which the remainder of the organisation is thereafter accountable.
There is an argument that the moment your organisation is big enough to need a chief operating officer, and not just a head of operations, is the unequivocal point at which your organisation has maximised its growth and its return, and commenced the slow, steady, comforting decline into entropy and death.