Bureaucrap: The Leading Killer of Innovation

Bureaucrap: The Leading Killer of Innovation

The surest sign that innovation is getting poo-pooed in an organization is when you see piles of BUREAUCRAP all over the office. It gunks up the works, it makes people hate their environment, and it STINKS!

What is Bureaucrap?





  1. Friction-causing, energy-sapping excrement from people who like to poo-poo other people’s ideas and who put artificial and nonsensical barriers in place that undermine productivity and innovation.
  2. A sticky substance that prevents real people from doing good work.
  3. A residue from incompetent people trying to justify their existence.


Bureaucrap is often commensurate in scope to, or exponentially larger than the size of an organization, and poses as “protective measures” to prevent bad stuff from happening. What really happens is that it prevents good stuff from happening while allowing incompetence and polyticks (lots of blood-sucking parasites) to exist in the organization.

How to Remove Bureaucrap

biohazard suit


You may need a Tychem® BR Level B Fully Encapsulating Suit, like the one shown above, for excessive amounts of bureaucrap.

Caution: Bureaucrap is difficult to remove. You must follow these directions carefully:

  1. Clear the air.
    1. Explain that you believe bureaucrap to exist and that you want it removed.
  2. Identify the bureaucrap.
    1. Look for inefficiency.
    2. Look for disengaged employees.
    3. Look for poor performance and productivity.
    4. Look for lots of paper or extensive approval systems.
    5. Look for people who have risen to their level of incompetence (Peter Principle)
  3. Enlist help from your employees to root it out.
    1. Describe what bureaucrap is and how to find it.
    2. Offer rewards for the biggest pile of bureaucrap discovered. This can be fun or serious.
  4. Address it head-on. No mamby-pamby solutions will work.
    1. Create an award for bureaucrap.
    2. Speak to those in charge of creating, promoting, or maintaining bureaucrap.
      1. Give them a timeframe to remove the bureaucrap.
      2. If they fail to remove the bureaucrap in time, give them a bureaucrap award and force them to hang it proudly in their space.
      3. Give them one more deadline to remove the bureaucrap and post it on the award. Everyone will be watching.
      4. If they continue to sit in it, escort them outside, where they won’t be offensive to others. Leave them there.
  5. Continue to look for bureaucrap at regular intervals.
    1. Bureaucrap can creep in – even from well-meaning people.
    2. A review of policies and procedures can help weed out the bureaucrap. Lawyers may not like it, but who runs the company?
    3. Deal with it before it starts to stink.

Getting Professional Help to Remove Bureaucrap

You can also call a professional to assist in the removal. Big Think Innovation, for example, has a Bureaucrap Control Division (BTI’s BCD) that can help.


P.S. The above content is certainly tongue-in-cheek in some ways, but totally serious in others. Take what you think will work, be careful about shaming people unless your culture is one where people can do it in fun, and be sure that you don’t cut out anything that will harm your company. Some structure is still needed, and attorneys do have a part to play. Just make it a bit part….

By | 2015-08-04T09:16:53-04:00 January 28th, 2015|Uncategorized|3 Comments

About the Author:

Craig is founder and Chief Thinkologist of Big Think Innovation, Inc. Craig focuses on business and marketing strategy, business model innovation, and revenue growth architecture and innovation. He has an MBA from UNC Business School and is a member of MENSA. Craig has been building businesses since he was 15, and has served in C-level roles in IT, marketing, and general management.


  1. Stan Kirkwood January 28, 2015 at 1:49 pm - Reply


    Unfortunately bureaucrap comes in many sizes and colors. From hidden agendas to sabotage and egoism. One boss I had would call me in and pick my brain for solutions to problems the CFO had passed on to him. Then I would be sitting in a meeting and listen to my idea come out of my boss’ mouth as if it originated with him. So who wants to share ideas with a person like that? Which only leads to less productivity and innovation.

    But even more than that are those who refuse to listen to anything new. If they don’t think of it it isn’t going to get done. I see it in the academic world. They have reached their current heights because of their thinking and ideas. Now something new comes along (like Business Model Design / Performance Management) which may challenge some of those thoughts and they won’t consider it.

    A former manufacturing VP once said that if he were to adopt the idea I was presenting to him, that would mean everything he had stood for would be wrong. I was trying to get him to consider making the transition from push manufacturing to pull manufacturing. He could not accept that ideas evolve and expectations change. What was useful in one moment is obsolete in the next. Hence my definition of Business Insanity which is “to do the same thing over and over and expect the same results”.

    There is plenty of bureaucrap to be spread around.

    • Craig Mathews January 28, 2015 at 2:23 pm - Reply

      Great stories, Stan! As a big company exec, I’m sure you saw all sorts of bureaucrap.

  2. Craig Mathews January 28, 2015 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    From a friend: Bureaucrap negatively impacts performance. The goal of every business is Sustained Performance. We want to reinforce that which takes us closer to Sustained Performance (such as Innovation and Productivity) and diminish those things that take us further away (bureaucrap, invalid assumptions, fixed ideas, obsolete designs, waste, ….). It’s all about Performance and the more bureaucrap you have the less likely it will be that your company succeeds.

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