It is often easy to keep doing what we are doing than try something different. And it is often more comfortable to check and measure that which is tried and tested and produce more reports where we already know the answer – than attempt to build something that is unproven. And here lies danger.
The easier path, of researching and doing what we have always done, leads to the road of stagnation and we travel it with the comfort of bureaucracy. It is comforting because it can often feel like real work and it is smooth and controllable. Though we know deep down it is not the important work. Real work, with value is when we challenge, create, start something or improve something and it feels uncomfortable, mainly because we are travelling with uncertainty. The positive path is when research is genuinely in pursuit of the unknown and where the danger is personal failure or highlighting that something is not right. This point was made brilliantly recently by the excellent Seth Godin, as he puts it;
“Every organization or project that succeeds begins to erect a bureaucracy around that success, because keeping success from going away is a basic need.When you show up offering change, understand that the status quo isn’t the enemy of the bureaucracy, it is their entire reason for being.At some point, successful organizations stay successful by fighting off their instinct to support the bureaucracy. But far more often, people associate the bureaucracy with the organization’s success, as though they are one and the same, and work overtime to protect it from anything that feels threatening.” – Seth Godin.
Ultimately, any bureaucracy is only built and sustained by people who choose the comfort it offers. Doing something different, aiming to improve and change is the more difficult road. But ultimately, it is the one we should be aiming for.