Neil Tambe

Let’s go.

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Where bureaucracies have led us / Introducing #Stoos

I've recently come across the Stoos movement, a group of management thinkers from across disciplines who are trying to save the organizational world from itself (not joking). I happen to agree with their point of view, so I'll be publishing a bit over the next few month in the spirit of their work.  Check out:

Anyway, back to the post.


A lot of the time, I get really upset when I think about the world the Baby Boomers are leaving us. Here's some of the laundry list of messed up things manifesting in the institutional world right now:

  • Crumbling infrastructure
  • Sovereign Debt
  • Unbridled financial system
  • Vulnerable Social Security
  • Exorbitant Healthcare Spending
  • Unprecedented partisanship and inability to pass pragmatic policies
  • Growing income and social inequality
  • Climate change
  • US K-12 Education is the nation's most under performing asset
And the list goes on.

The way I see it, is that these issues are able to be influenced. We can make headway. We're not doomed, necessarily.

Again, we're not doomed...but I don't think bureaucracies will get us to where we need to be, however. Those are the structures that made huge gains in the 20th century, but also left us with a load of messy problems. "Flat" organizations won't help us either. Flat organizations are the worst kind of bureaucracy (because it's a bureaucracy parading around as if it is not a bureaucracy).

Don't get me wrong, bureaucracies aren't inherently bad. They're just ill-equipped to do what we need in the organizational world, now. There are fewer and fewer problems, in my humble opinion, that require standardized results and gains from economies of scale (which is what bureaucracies are awesome at). I'd venture the opposite, we have more and more problems that require non-standard results.

If we follow this assertion to its end, we need to think about organizations in a radically different way. Bureaucracies, and all that comes with them, shouldn't be our frame of reference of what an organization is. We need something different. This will be hard, because we swim in bureaucracies and probably don't even realize how beholden we are to thinking about organizations through the lens of bureaucracy.

I have an alternate point of view and so do the other Stoos thinkers. Over the next few months I'll try to start articulating this viewpoint of a "new organizational world." Kind of a book preview, but that's getting ahead of myself.

Please do say hello: neil.tambe[at]gmail[dot]com