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Bureuacratic Archetypes: Darth Vader, SES

So a while ago Steve posed the question: Is bureaucrat a bad word? He and I had a spirited dialog about the whole thing, and in he responded with a crystal clear mental model of his definition of the word:

I’d like to reclaim the word “bureaucrat” as a true insider’s word. Kind of like the musician’s favorite musician. To me, my favorite bureaucrat understands large organizations for what they are. While we all love innovation (myself #1), bureaucracies exist for a reason and there is real skill in navigating them. The true bureaucrat understands the landscape, his/her deck of cards, the timing, and knows how to play them.

That idea really resonated with me, and inspired me to launch a new (and, if popular, recurrent) feature: Bureaucratic Archetypes: I’ll periodically feature a character and make some observations about how they exhibit or fall short of Steve’s gold standard for bureuacrats.

To kick us off, here’s an article I wish I wrote, courtesy of the excellent Stepcase Lifehack blog: Darth Vader’s Management Secrets. My favorite:

9. Finally, always remember that an elaborate, far-reaching plan, which relies on people reacting exactly how you plan for them to react, is always better than a simple plan. Nothing illustrates your genius quite like a meticulous, detailed, super-plan which will go horribly awry if people don’t react exactly the way you think they will. Just know who to blame when things don’t go the way you expect them to.

While I somehow doubt Darth is a transformational leader, sometimes its important to learn what NOT to do. I realize it’s probably not optimal to launch a feature with a bad archetype, but it’s Friday and I think people are therefore entitled to a little humor. I’ll be sure to feature some more positive archetypes from url and screen in the future. Happy Friday!

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