How can we cure the ills of bureaucracy without adding more bureaucrats to the job? The ills of bureaucracy are entrenchment and inefficiency, and combating them is not as easy as it might at first seem. The simple first answer is, of course, “We shall rigorously audit our procedures to increase efficiency,” but that seldom works…
Another popular solution is to outsource, to hire a private company to do part of the organization’s job. This tends to look more efficient on paper, as it can appear that one is just writing a check to a company and receiving back completed work. In practice, this is rarely any more efficient, as it adds at least one more layer of middlemen to take their time and take their cut, and it depends on the idea that the company doing the work is itself somehow immune to the ills of bureaucracy. Then, too, once the contract is assigned, the incentive on the contracted company is to entrench itself and its contract as firmly as any heirloom system. The best available solution at present seems to be the adoption of low-friction systems and practices—low-friction in the sense of providing little resistance to the free movement of information, goods, money, or personnel. When information can flow freely and unrestricted, the possibilities develop rapidly, because everything else follows information. In times gone by, for example, a long-haul trucker, even one who owned his own truck, was dependent on a company to organize his runs, because managing the information about who needed what hauled to where was a full time job. Now that same trucker can simply log into a database and see available freight jobs for the entire country. ...
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