Product management is Bureaucracy?
Bureaucracy and Bureaucrats
The term bureaucracy may refer both to a body of non-elected governing officials (bureaucrats) and to an administrative policy-making group. A bureaucracy was a government administration managed by departments staffed with non-elected officials. Today, bureaucracy is the administrative system governing any large institution, whether publicly owned or privately owned.
Various commentators have argued for the necessity of bureaucracies in modern society. The German sociologist Max Weber argued that it is the most efficient and rational way in which human activity can be organized. He also said that systematic processes and organized hierarchies are necessary to maintain order, maximize efficiency, and end favoritism. But, he also saw unfettered bureaucracy as a threat to individual freedom.
In workplaces, bureaucracy is used very often to blame complicated rules, processes, and written work that make it hard to get something done.
In modern society, bureaucrats are people who have some competence and division of labor. They are the people who get a regular salary with an option to grow in the structure they are working into. They are selected based on merit, get trained, have access to knowledge and have prescribed rules to perform actions. They also have some power given by policy/lawmakers.
The public administration are in favour of bureaucracy. So does any centralized hierarchical institution, e.g. hospitals, academic entities, business firms, professional societies, social clubs, etc.
So, let’s try to relate bureaucracy with product management.
IAS and Product Managers
Product managers are necessary bureaucracy exists in the product organizations.
Roles and responsibilities are similar to an IAS, not the power.
They have a framework to execute something, they take decisions under some constraints, they follow the order of which coming from a policymaker, you have very limited independence of implementing anything until approved from the top.
They can find if something is not right, can give suggestions of change to the upper level of hierarchy.
The change will be implemented only if the policymaker approves it.
Let’s take one more example of bureaucracy. A less powerful bureaucrat.
Stationmaster and Product manager
The stationmaster doesn’t drive the train, it’s the pilot.
They don’t even help pilots drive the train faster.
They don’t even take care of the train.
They can’t decide which train will come to the station and which doesn’t, that’s the policymakers. They can’t make sure if people on the station are safe, it’s the Security forces.
They manage the system where the train and security forces are just a part.
They are hired to create and manage the system, which can sometimes slow down the train.
Policymaker = Business team
Pilots = Engineers
Stationmaster = PM
Bureaucrats are known to be the officials that run the government sector at administrative levels as well as ministerial levels and also they are known as Executives that run the corporate sector at the managerial and directorial levels.
Bureaucracy can be bad, but not all bureaucracy is bad. The target is not to move fast but to move efficiently.
So, are you a bureaucrat or aspiring to become one?
You can still fulfill your childhood dream of becoming a bureaucrat in the digital world.
If you think, you’ll never have power. Think about the PM who thought of infinite scroll in Instagram, stories in Snapchat, limited characters for tweets and polls for Linkedin.