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The Delicate Art of Bureaucracy

Digital Transformation with the Monkey, the Razor, and the Sumo Wrestler

Mark Schwartz



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IT Revolution Press
13 October 2020
Mark Schwartz, author of leadership classics A Seat at the Table and The Art of Business Value, reveals a new (empowering) model for the often soul-shattering, frustrating, Kafkaesque nightmare we call bureaucracy. Through humor, a healthy dose of history and philosophy, and real-life examples from his days as a government bureaucrat, Schwartz shows IT leaders (and the whole of business) how to master the ways of the Monkey, the Razor, and the Sumo Wrestler to create a lean, learning, and enabling bureaucracy. For anyone frustrated by roadblocks, irritated the business can't move fast enough, or suffering under the weight of crushing procedures, this book is for you. No matter your role, you need a playbook for bureaucracy. This is it. With this playbook, you can wield bureaucracy as a superpower and bust through it at the same time
By:   Mark Schwartz
Imprint:   IT Revolution Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 226mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 18mm
Weight:   386g
ISBN:   9781950508150
ISBN 10:   1950508153
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   13 October 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Mark Schwartz is an iconoclast and CIO and a playful crafter of ideas, an inveterate purveyor of lucubratory prose. He has been an IT leader in organizations small and large, public, private, and nonprofit.As an Enterprise Strategist for Amazon Web Services, he uses his extensive CIO wisdom to advise the world's largest companies on the obvious: time to move to the cloud, guys. As the CIO of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, he provoked the federal government into adopting Agile and DevOps practices. He is pretty sure that when he was the CIO of Intrax Cultural Exchange he was the first person ever to use business intelligence and supply chain analytics to place au pairs with the right host families. Mark speaks frequently on innovation, change leadership, bureaucratic implications of DevOps, and using Agile practices in low-trust environments. With a BS in computer science from Yale, a master's in philosophy from Yale, and an MBA from Wharton, Mark is either an expert on the business value of IT or just confused and much poorer.Mark is the author of The Art of Business Value, A Seat at the Table, and War and Peace and IT and the winner of a Computerworld Premier 100 award, an Amazon Elite 100 award, a Federal Computer Week Fed 100 award, and a CIO Magazine CIO 100 award. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Reviews for The Delicate Art of Bureaucracy: Digital Transformation with the Monkey, the Razor, and the Sumo Wrestler

A must read for leaders trying to break the vicious circle of 'it can't be done' in complex organizations. Based on history, sociology, and his own experiences, Mark Schwartz explains the different perspectives on bureaucracy and how to bust it with practical steps. The perfect handbook for transformation under constrained circumstances. --Renato Garcia Pedigoni, CDO, Grupo Boticario A remarkable and eye-opening journey on bureaucracy written with spark and wit. It will give you a completely different perspective on bureaucracy--particularly entering the next normal. A must-read for all who want to realign and shift bureaucracy towards learning instead of using it as a Schimpfwort (a great word)! --Eveline Oehrlich, Chief Research Director, DevOps Institute A shrewd and entertaining account of how bureaucracy becomes entrenched in social organizations and of its encumbering effects on the process of change. But its greatest value is in the sharing of strategies and tactics for knowledge workers trammeled by bureaucracy to--like Sumo wrestlers--turn the weight of the red tape to their advantage and become innovator-makers. --Renata Brogan, Solutions Architect, Women in Tech, Women in IT As someone that has been a cog in large, faceless corporations, I found bureaucracy stifling enough to abandon the heavy-handed rules and processes of large enterprise for the startup world. But even startups can become victims of senseless and unbending rituals. I discovered that bureaucracy has no preferred host. You may not come to love bureaucracy, but you will appreciate the wisdom in Mark's sage advice. In his battles with the Leviathan that is the USCIS, he brings levity and plenty of Moby Dick references as he deftly avoids the traps set by the devilish MD-102 by channeling the ways of the Monkey, the Razor, and the Sumo Wrestler and become a force for positive change. --Mark Birch, Founder, Enterprise Sales Forum; Founder DEV.BIZ.OPS Bureaucracy has long been a major impediment to transformation. With his usual style of complementing his progressive thinking with a variety of literary references and wit, Mark provides an engaging, insightful, and balanced view on a topic that could easily make one's eyes bleed! In this book you will find a practical guide to busting bureaucracy and turning it into a force for good, all while staying true to the modern techniques of Agile and DevOps--with the help of a Monkey, a Razor, and a Sumo Wrestler. --Keith Madsen, SVP, Cloud and Advanced Technology, Bank of America Bureaucracy has never been discussed in such an entertaining and educational way before. Learn how to clean out the organizational 'scar tissue' that is slowing you down. --Adrian Cockcroft, VP Cloud Architecture Strategy, Amazon Web Services I identified with every chapter. Although we tend to think that bureaucracy is a disease and there are no magic recipes to change our way of thinking, we can always think of leaving it on the light side of the force. --Laura Caceres, Operations Director, DevOps LATAM Informative, interesting, and thought provoking piece that raises the veil on bureaucracy. It elucidates bureaucracy's history, evolution, practices, approaches, perceptions, and learnings. This book comes with a great deal of objectivity that propels the mind to seek innovative ways to create an enabling bureaucracy! --Ikoabasi Akpan, Sales Manager, Air France-KLM It takes great curiosity to deeply understand organizational bureaucracy, great courage to challenge it, and pure genius to know how to bend it to your will. In this book, Mark delivers a razor-sharp analysis on all of the above and then shares with us a comprehensive roadmap to a better future, where bureaucracy finally becomes the organizational enabler it was always intended to be. --John Walsh, Business Relationship Manager, PepsiCo Mark has done it again, giving us IT professionals insights into how we, with our software and our creative software development processes, can change heavy, unproductive bureaucratic corporations into adaptable, human-friendly, value-driven bureaucratic corporations that we all love to work for. Red tape is here to stay; it's a matter of being smart about it. This book for sure will be one I am going to refer to when meeting my colleagues and peers. --Allan Nyland Christensen, Senior Transformation Manager, LEGO Mark has done it again: with his usual wit and verve, he has cut past normal lazy blather about 'bloated bureaucracies' to get to the truth about their place in the world. In doing so, he outlines not only why bureaucracies are necessary, but how they are best fought through a deep understanding of their internal logic and weak points. [The (Delicate) Art of Bureaucracy] serves as a handbook on how to fight the good fight not just for IT, but for the world too. --Ian Miell, Cloud Native Consultant, Container Solutions Mark is to bureaucracy as Sun-Tzu is to the art of war. Read this book to capitalize on the good intended from bureaucracy and have the scissors you always hoped for to reshape it to be enabling, learning, and lean. Leverage the weight of bureaucracy to your advantage like a champion organizational Sumo wrestler. --Jamie Scott Berniker, Executive Director, Corporate Development, global bank Mark Schwartz has written a classic on bureaucracy that will always be relevant. A very readable, insightful, playful, useful, and enjoyable book that will help readers who are bureaucrats of any flavor--and any of us who think we don't need bureaucracy but do--as long as it is a lean and learning bureaucracy. Mark provides the techniques of the Monkey, the Razor, and the Sumo Wrestler to effect the required change. As always, a bonus in Mark's books are enjoyable mini-lessons in literature, philosophy, mythology, and pasta! --Tom Michelli, Former Acting Department of Defense Principal Deputy CIO, CIO US Coast Guard, and CIO US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Mark Schwartz turns the tables on bureaucracy, offering a practical guide to stripping out a labyrinth of rules and replacing them with simplicity, ease, and automation. His version of a benevolent bureaucracy paves the path for digital transformation and facilitates creativity and innovation. --Kimberly Jonson COO, Fannie Mae My brain continues to turn around quantum bureaucracy. How to get the right amount of it at the right time and in the right place, but no more and not there unless you look. Maybe Schrodinger's Bureaucracy is something I need to work on and think about...Great read, and I'm so thankful to Mark for writing this book to reform bureaucracy. With his insight into razor-bearing sumo monkeys, we can progress toward a more modern way of managing. Like Jonah, I felt trapped with no way to determine my own direction. Mark provides great tools for guiding the whale. --Josh Seckel, Specialist Leader, Deloitte Digital My organization launched an internal program called 'Kill Bureaucracy' (Kill B). Reading this book made me realize the obvious: One does not simply kill bureaucracy. Following the guidelines and practical examples in this great book, one will understand that he has to simply transform from 'Homo bureaucraticus' to a monkey, a sumo wrestler, or a razor! --George Chr. Georgiou, Enterprise Architect, Bank of Cyprus Need ideas to accelerate change and disrupt bureaucracy? This book brings analogies that will relate to your world. Mark uses three levers as themes, each with usable playbooks, that will give you the confidence and early wins to maintain momentum as you break through the barriers most organizations face. --Chris Richardson, Deputy CIO, IT Development, Mobility, Smart Cities, Arizona State University The (Delicate) Art of Bureaucracy is so creative, clever, and enlightening, it will help me remove digital transformation headwinds for years to come. It's a must read for government and business leaders as they embark on digital transformation. It will make you a better digital leader by giving you the knowledge to use bureaucracy as a digital accelerator, and it belongs on your office desk today. --Chris Radich, VP Digital Strategy, Salesforce This fascinating book will make you rethink bureaucracy and give you actionable tools to manage in increasingly complex environments. Mark's ability to weave philosophy, history, and humor throughout his reflections on real-life experiences puts important concepts in a completely new and important context. His playbook for addressing bureaucracy is compelling and clear--I look forward to adopting many of his recommendations. Hooray for the intersection of Liberal Arts and Computer Science! --Rich Seltz, CIO, CDO, Cabot Microelectronics What do ancient Egypt, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Thomas Hobbes, Moby Dick and the very-often-referred-to Max Weber have to do with digital transformation? A great deal, because bureaucracy is a permanent guest in history and a necessary evil. So whether you have fallen in love with bureaucracy or hate it, you should read this book. Bad bureaucracy can dehumanize, promote blind spots and stifle innovation. But good bureaucracy can introduce fairness and provide efficiency through scalability and predictability, e.g., in regulatory compliance. Once again, Mark manages to combine exciting storytelling with tangible analogies from history and daily life. --Chris Russ, Program Director and Senior Lecturer, ZHAW School of Management and Law

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