A bird in the hand (of the bureaucracy) … is worth a good laugh!

Monday, October 18th, 2010 | Miscelaneous | 5 Comments

An interesting thing happened to me today.  I went into the building of a provincial department for an early morning meeting and took the lift to the eighth floor.  A pigeon was fluttering in the window of a little lobby, which contains the lifts and a stairwell, desperately trying to get out.  All the windows in the building are welded to prevent people from opening them (not sure if this is for the sake of the air-conditioner or to prevent suicide), so I have no idea how the pigeon got in.  Perhaps it came through a broken window on another floor and flew up (or down) the stairwell. I looked around and could not find any place to let it out.

Seeing the poor bird in distress made me forget about my not-so-fit body and after a number of attempts caught it and took the lift down to perform an act of liberation.  When I reached the reception lobby I took out my security card to swipe me and the bird through the barrier … and then the security receptionist saw me!

“Sir, you’re not allowed to bring a bird in here,” she said with a frown.

“I’m not bringing the bird in, I’m taking it out,” I replied meekly

“But how did you bring it in?”

“I didn’t bring it in – it came in by itself.”

“How could it come in by itself?”

“It flew in,” I said.

“Where did it get in?” she asked, her face and body reflecting her disbelief.

“I have no idea.  It was fluttering around in the lobby on the eighth floor, so I caught it so that I can set it free outside,” I said while aiming my security card at the barrier again.

“But you can’t take it out here,” she said with a don’t-mess-with-me look on her face.

“OK, but where can I exit then?”

“This is the only way out.”

“If there is no other way out, and I can’t get out here, how am I going to get the bird outside?” I asked, frustration building up.

“That’s not my problem, Sir. All I’m telling you is that you can’t take a bird out here,” she insisted, taking a threatening step towards me.  “It is not allowed.”

“Shall I let the bird loose here?” I asked, my sarcasm lost on her.

“If you do, I will have to call Security.”

I was trumped.  There was only one way out – in more way than one.  I swiped my card, walked through the lobby, out the door, and started breathing when the pigeon took to the air.

When I re-entered the building the no-bird–in-here lady gave me a dirty look and said: “You better wash your hands … these birds carry lice.”

Have you ever wondered why is it so difficult to get things done in a bureaucracy?  I rest my case.


How to win against red tape

Monday, April 5th, 2010 | e-Learning pioneers | Comments Off

The e-pioneer cuts through red tape.

An “efficient bureaucracy” is an oxymoron – red tape strangles all efforts towards efficiency.

Many people have tried fighting bureaucracy, only to find that, while it may be possible to win small battles, red tape is such a powerful weapon that it is impossible to win the war.

How can an e-pioneer cut through red tape to ensure successful implementation of technology in schools?
When hitting a “you can’t do this” brick wall, first establish: is this an organizational rule, or is it simply the whim of an official?  Red tape is often created on the fly by bureaucrats who have personal agendas – in this case enlist the help of someone higher in the hierarchy.

If the stumbling block is an organizational rule, try to understand the reason for it.  With this understanding it may still be possible to achieve your objective while altering your plans slightly or finding an alternative way to reach your goal.  You can only succeed against red tape if you are flexible – don’t insist on a single solution.

The e-pioneer must make friends with people in the hierarchy, explaining why technology is important in schools and what needs to be done to implement it successfully.  Such friends will prove to be powerful allies.

If e-pioneers can’t cut through red tape, they weave their way through it.

Click here for more food for thought for e-pioneers.

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Never give up in the fight against bureaucracy

Friday, April 2nd, 2010 | e-Learning pioneers | 2 Comments

 The e-pioneer fights bureaucracy.

A bureaucracy is an organizational framework with procedures, protocols and regulations to manage and control the activities of large systems, such as education departments.

The vast volumes of documentation required by such a structure are often tied in bundles by red tape – a tradition of bureaucracies since the seventeenth century.  This explains why the term “red tape” is used when we refer to the excessively complex and depressingly time-consuming processes of an organization.

Bureaucracies are sometimes at odds with e-pioneers.  Why?

Schools are subject to the red tape of the education department.  Red tape is used by bureaucrats to preserve the status quo – innovation is not encouraged since it takes them out of their comfort zone.

When e-pioneers introduce new technologies, they are seen as a disruptive influence.  Red tape is spun to hamper progress on the road to innovation.  And even if the barriers are not put in place deliberately, organizational red tape hampers the pace of modernization.

The e-pioneer can never give up in the face of such obstructions and has to fight back.  How?  Innovative e-pioneers always find legal ways to cut through the red tape to liberate teachers and learners.

Click here for more food for thought for e-pioneers.

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