The greatest threat to an organization's success is not always the competition. Often, it is what a company does to itself. Because of fear, companies become plagued with barriers and bureaucracy that limit success, crush employees, and infuse frustration and a sense of futility across the enterprise. It starts with a narrowing of focus, which leads to the first level of bureaucracy: parochialism. Parochialism exists when departments begin to view the world through the filter of their own little silo. As businesses grow, the second level of bureaucracy is reached: territorialism. Territorialism is about controlling those inside the silo. The third and final level of bureaucracy is empire building, which is a response to perceived threats to a department's ability to be self-sufficient. These barriers cost organizations a fortune in inefficiency, turnover, waste, and demoralization.
Tearing down these barriers is difficult, but it can be done. Parochialism can be eliminated by resetting rules and policies and refocusing on the ultimate mission of the organization. Territorialism can be eliminated by creating true empowerment. Empire building can be addressed through shared goals and a set of guiding principles that help act as a referee in decision making.
By doing all these things, an organization can become fearless and unstoppable.
Tom Rieger is a former Gallup employee. He is an expert in identifying and correcting barriers to success, both for companies and societies. Rieger has built a number of frameworks that apply behavioral economic principles to a variety of complex problems, across boardrooms and battlefields. Tom received an MS in Industrial Administration from Carnegie Mellon in 1986.