Keep moving. Except in times of danger (downsizing or reorg), good bureaucrats keep moving. Schedule a meeting, present a proposal, reschedule a meeting, present a new proposal, and repeat. The more times you fly back and forth between the same cities, the more important you are in your organization. Perfect your memo’s cover sheet, and then go back and edit the cover sheet again. Keep moving through your work routine despite all the craziness in the world. Companies are innovating, new products are appearing, and disturbed people are doing things differently. Entrepreneurs scurry about like cockroaches testing the offerings in a messy kitchen. Don’t let the craziness in the world distract you. Keep moving.
This Monday is Labor Day in the U.S. The above video is a tribute to bureaucrats world-wide, moving through their bureaucratic work days.
A friend who is a history professor once told me, “Those who cannot learn history are doomed to repeat it, next semester.” But that was not always true. As the American History Association, a venerable bureaucratic organization, asserts on its website:
When the American Historical Association (AHA) was founded in 1884, history had only recently emerged as a distinct academic discipline. The first few professors in the field of history had only been appointed at major universities in the 1870s.
Without history professors, there is no one to require that history be repeated. Fortunately, a meeting of an organization called for the formation of another organization:
In 1884, “professors, teachers, specialists, and others interested in the advancement of history in this country” were called to gather at the annual meeting of the American Social Science Association (ASSA) in Saratoga, New York. Despite the opposition of the ASSA’s president, John Eaton, the historians present voted to establish the American Historical Association as a separate organization. The central figure in this initiative was Herbert Baxter Adams, an associate professor in history at Johns Hopkins University, who became the first secretary of the AHA and remained so for the next sixteen years. Andrew Dickson White, a historian and president of Cornell University, was selected as the AHA’s first president.
The new organization has been electing officers now for well over a century. The current president of the American History Association, William Cronin, recently wrote an article on professional boredom. Only members of the organization are allowed to add comments to the article, and members must register and log in to make a comment. Don’t let this happen to you.
A key economic challenge with advancing automation and highly scalable network services is creating jobs. Bureaucrats are experts in creating and preserving jobs. Consider, for example, Terrence “Terry” Telco, a bureaucratic leader in the communications industry:
The decision of whether or not to deploy IPv6 is a decision that is largely dead simple. Oh no, not for Terry. Its an excuse to overanalyze, debate and investigate something ad infinitum in the hopes that a) people around will get too bored to notice this study has been ongoing for the past 6 years, and b) no one doing the study will ever be tasked with ever implementing the strange, overly complex and surely bespoke architecture that Terry invents to deploy IPv6.
Can there by any doubt that Telco supports a large workforce? Isn’t it clear that Telco excels in creating jobs? The economy needs Telco, now more than ever.
Venkat at ribbonfarm has an insightful post about waste and creativity. Bureaucracies are often accused of being wasteful. Venkat points out, “being able to afford to waste materials allows for better creativity.” Bureaucrats are able to create so many procedures, rules, and documents in part because they can afford to waste materials. So don’t criticize bureaucracies for being wasteful.
That’s all for this month’s Carnival of Bureaucrats. Enjoy previous bureaucratic carnivals here. Nominations of posts to be considered for inclusion in next month’s carnival should be submitted using Form 376: Application for Bureaucratic Recognition.