When losing trust bureaucracy wins

Conflicts between business and technology are so frequent that they appear to be natural.

Business people complain about the lack of ability of technical areas to make assertive estimates and comply with agreements. Technology people complain that business people can not specify what needs to be done clearly, and also, they “change their minds” often.

Complicated processes are defined and ignored. There are documents of technical specification, which nobody reads, full of ambiguous and challenging language nobody understands. Time wasting of very talented people on estimates that no one uses. Bureaucracy!

The bureaucracy emerges, almost always, from lack of trust! When someone stops trusting someone else, it creates a new “control,” or a new, stricter, and less efficient process. In such cases, talking is no longer enough, everything needs to be recorded in some way (like that email, you know ?!). Unfortunately, bureaucracy does not solve the problem of lack of trust, only amplifies noise and worsens relationships.

Bureaucracy increases costs by jeopardizing margins or harming customers. Understanding that competition is always for profit, the lack of trust, where bureaucracy originates, makes us less competitive.

Jonathan Rasumusson, who has worked on Spotify, points out that in software projects, there are three great truths:

  1. It is impossible to gather all the requirements at the beginning of the project;
  2. Whatever requirements you do gather are guaranteed to change;
  3. There will always be more to do than time and money will allow.

The agile manifesto is a recognition of these truths. However, common sense causes these truths to be ignored by frustrating expectations, making good and committed people fail to trust each other, leading to the consolidation of inefficient bureaucracy in organizations.

The solution to the bureaucracy problem is recovering of trust. Trust comes from the relationship, and a relationship requires “repetition” (consistency and persistence in trying to communicate limitations, skills, and incompetencies)

Conflicts between business and technology are not natural.

Elemar Júnior

Microsoft Regional Director and Microsoft MVP. I have been working for more than two decades developing world-class business software. I had the privilege to help to change the way Brazil sells, designs and produces furniture. Today, my technical interests are scalable architectures, database engines, and integration tools. Also, I am crazy about exponential organizations and business strategy.

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