Actually just a few observations others have made, but observations I live within everyday:
The Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that:
In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.
With the first group exibiting oligarchic behavior, dysergy follows. I will add an exception to Pournelle’s Law: IT people are devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself, yet as a perceived “cost center” they get eliminated too. Interestingly, this happens because as observed by the Shirky Principle:
Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.
IT people do not easily accept the fact that part of their work is to make themselves redundant and by objecting to that (and therefore by maintaining their own internal bureaucracy) they get eliminated while fighting interdepartmental wars that have nothing to do with the organization’s mission. The rest of the departments understand the lesson IT took only after their time comes too.
I had heard Shirky’s Principle years ago (pre 2000) stated by me supervisor at the time in a different way:
A bureaucracy’s first objective is to maintain itself. Then to fulfill the reason it was created for.
Lost in translation. I think I’m going to find myself a Permit A 38 now.
Update 2011/12/21: Peter Drucker writes:
People are so convinced they are doing the right things and so committed to their cause that they come to see the institution as an end in itself. But that’s a bureaucracy