Bureaucracy: An Obituary

Bureaucracy passed away earlier this month after finally relenting to Disruption and Innovation. Hundreds and thousands of friends and family gathered in concentric circles around his hospital bed while he labored on his last breath. Following a confusing and slow response to his death, a memorial service was held this week. It lasted two days and involved hundreds of speakers.

A beloved family member of Bureaucracy, Hierarchy, delivered one of three main mega eulogies. Sullen and clearly shaken, Hierarchy stood tall and turned slowly to the lectern to deliver the speech he had had reviewed countless times by friends and colleagues. His remarks included numerous additions from Redundancy, his closest advisor and a very dear friend of the deceased.

Of Bureaucracy Hierarchy said, “For many decades, Bureaucracy remained unmatched in his ability to ensure that layers upon layers of approvals were needed even for mundane organizational functions.”

Holding back tears, he went on to say, “As cousins, we grew up together and spent summers plotting new ways to retain an entrenched status quo inside every organization. Living out those childhood dreams was a magical time in our lives. I am proud to say we made work harder and drove a lot of fear in people. Bureaucracy contributed to employee stress more than anyone I have ever met. He did his job with aplomb. I will miss him.”

Silo-Mentality, another dear colleague of Bureaucracy, delivered the second eulogy. In a quivering voice, Silo-Mentality said, “We worked together for decades. And to be frank with all of you, I never thought Bureaucracy would die. Even after the fall of Communism, we crept back into millions of organizations around the world and did what we were called to do — — slow things down, force over-thinking, and encourage a ‘cover your ass’ workflow. It will be difficult to wake up tomorrow and to live out my mission without him. Bureaucracy taught me more about inertia than anyone in my long career.”

The ceremony was officiated by Innovation who asked that Disruption say a few words as the service slowly crawled to an end. In his remarks, Disruption shared stories of how hard Bureaucracy worked to maintain his status and stop progress.

“Bureaucracy fought harder than any one of us could have imagined. I took a hard run at him in the 1970s and again in the 1980s, but it was not until 2015 and with the great help of Technology, Collaboration, Openness, Transparency, and Wicked Focus on Customers and Their Needs Above All Else that I was able to win.

“There will be deniers — — like those who deny we ever went to the moon — — who claim Bureaucracy lives on, but I assure you he is gone. I know his collapse has been painful for many of you, but I urge you to consider the exciting possibilities now in front of us.

“In the end, Bureaucracy will be remembered for his tenacity. This tenacity is what he and I always had in common. I intend to bring that same dogged perseverance to my reign over businesses and organizations in the 21st century.”

Bureaucracy is survived by his wife, Levels, and three children, Functions, Cost-Center, and Structure. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked all mourners to book an unnecessary business meeting with a confusing agenda and no clear follow-through.