Office bureaucracy, often viewed as an annoyance, can be a subtle form of sabotage. The CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual from World War II highlights this, listing banal bureaucratic behaviours that slow down an organisation’s productivity. These include insisting on doing everything through channels, making speeches, referring matters to committees, and bringing up irrelevant issues.

Modern workplaces are not immune to these tactics. Meetings are a prime example, often being overpopulated and poorly run, leading to wasted time and resources. Emails are another culprit, with unnecessary cc-ing and lengthy chains causing confusion and delays.

Bureaucratic behaviours can be unintentionally destructive, with well-meaning employees inadvertently slowing down processes. This is often due to a lack of understanding about the wider organisational goals and their role within them.

Addressing this issue requires a shift in organisational culture. Leaders need to encourage open communication, discourage unnecessary procedures, and empower employees to make decisions. This will foster a more efficient and effective workplace, free from the subtle sabotage of bureaucracy.

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