The machinery of bureaucracy depends on a trained workforce. Modern societies have thus established special educational institutions. In these institutions, uneducated young persons are grouped together so that they can better learn from each other. The young persons are separated from the workforce so as to avoid real-world distractions. They are then passed through courses and requirements. That makes them certified as educated throughout their subsequent working lives. While traditional educational institutions have considerable bureaucratic merit, they no longer suffice for the needs of today’s bureaucracies.
Today’s bureaucracy must be a learning organization. Learning must be added to the job description of every person in the bureaucracy. Every document created within the bureaucracy, including substantive emails copied to more than five persons, must have a separate learning section describing the learning associated with the document. Highlighting the importance of learning, many organizations are establishing Chief Learning Officers to supervise and coordinate learning.
In today’s online, digital world, learning is necessary to maintain business advantage. Consider DAFTA’s implementation of online timekeeping for its employees. DAFTA (Document Assembly/Fastenings Trade Association) is the leading Washington-based trade association for the manufacturers of document clasps, paper clips, staples, and related office document technologies. Until last year, DAFTA employees had punched-hole timecards. They also wrote out on paper requests for sick time and vacation time. After being informed of the advent of the new online, digital world, DAFTA’s leadership decided to implement an online, digital timekeeping system.
DAFTA’s implementation of online timekeeping nearly failed from lack of attention to learning. Employees struggled to figure out how to use the online timekeeping system. That raised the question of the proper time code to use to record time spent trying to figure out how to use the online timekeeping system. No one knew. Several meetings about the issue raised the question of how to record time spent trying to figure out how to record time spent trying to figure out how to use the online timekeeping system.
With the situation threatening to spiral out of control, the Chief Learning Officer stepped in and pointed out the need for training. She established a new, online training course on how to use the new timekeeping system. The training course had a special training module addressing how to record time spent discussing how to record time spent trying to figure out to use the new timekeeping system. Employees, however, couldn’t figure out how to register for the new online training course.
Emphasizing the importance of training, the Chief Learning Officer set up a new training course on how to register for training courses. Colleges champion “learning how to learn,” she declared, “we will train how to train.” The Chief Learning Officer coordinated with the Chief Data Officer to establish a schema for collecting data on registrations for the training course on how to register for training courses. The DAFTA Head, recognizing the importance of big data and being a data-driven organization, agreed to allow one year for data to accumulate on registrations for the training course on how to register for training courses. She also allowed employees to use the old punchcard and paper timekeeping system in the interim. The Chief Learning Officer thus transformed DAFTA into a learning organization. You can do the same for your organization!
That’s all for this month’s Carnival of Bureaucrats. Enjoy previous bureaucratic carnivals here. Nominations of posts to be considered for inclusion in next month’s carnival should be submitted using Form 376: Application for Bureaucratic Recognition.