I'm plugging away on my presentation "Breaking the Law of Bureaucracy" for the upcoming Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference. Though I know I should be focusing on how to break this law, I can't help but think of the organizational bureaucracies we all deal with. Two types of people within our organizations come to mind, the Zombies and the Bill Lumberghs (from Office Space). Yeahhhh, you know that guy or gal. They're heavy on style and light on substance. They are more concerned about you having a coversheet on your TPS (Total Project Status) report than they are of refining the process so you no longer need a TPS Report or a coversheet. He or she sits in a corner office telling you how much time you have to complete the work they have estimated and committed for you.
Yeah, I'm going to need you to come in on, ohh, Saturday. We need to play catch up. Oh, and you might as well come in on Sunday too. Thannnkkss..
Now that you know the type of person to look for, think of a way to lower the amount of bureaucracy you're dealing with every day. I'm not suggesting you change the world. Just look for one small change that is a pain-point or bottleneck for you, your team, or the organization. In the case of being asked to come in on Saturday or Sunday, you're going to have to take control of who does the estimating. If the people who are doing the work are the ones doing the estimates, there's a lower probability the estimates are going to be off and the team being over-committed. Empower your team...and for the sake of us all, don't be a Lumbergh.