February 15; How To Persuade And Negotiate The UnMoveable
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful


15 February

…bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne,

and lay them on men’s shoulders;

but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Matthew 23:4

How To Persuade And Negotiate The UnMoveable


Rule Number One:

“Never Give a Bureaucrat a chance to say no.”

Morton Blackwell, the founder of The Leadership Institute, wrote The Laws of the Public Policy Process that has 45 such pithy points.

They are helpful to anyone dealing with the servants grinding out the sausage of law, policy, rule and reg. I keep a copy framed near my desk — even when that desk was a part of the Office of the Governor.

Governments and most any very large organization have what political scientists would call ”multiple points of accountability.’

This is where any stakeholder or key influencer or television camera can veto an action. The Bureaucrat learns very quickly that vetoes will come fast and from all directions with lethal effect onto any movement by said Bureaucrat. There is no penalty for no decision. It is safer for a simple preemptive “No.”

Remember our Bureaucrat is in a matrix (an organizational structure; not the movie — although it may seem that way). He can get fired by any number of bosses. Or maybe worse: to work past 5pm or on a Saturday. It seems that the nature of this beast is to encumber staff and not to help.

This is not new. Matthew 23:4 says that the bureaucrat, the legalist, the Pharisee will, …bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers

I have found one method of confronting this breed in the public or private sector:


Instead try these three Bureaucrat workarounds:

1) Use a third party. Watch how our Congress does it: Closing military bases a hot potato(e)? Form a commission. Afraid of the abortion issue? Let the Supremes decide. There is always someone, somewhere who will sign off that adminis-trivial paperwork or approve the lift-off your project — for a price. (Call me for rates.)

2) There are some Bureaucrats who can be inside champions for your project. Here’s how you can identify this rare subset: Ask them if they like the child’s game of ‘Whack-a-Mole.’ If the Bureaucrat brightens up, leans forward and smiles, start enlisting. If the weather turns cloudy, walk away. Think CIA and spy recruiting.

3) Or my favorite — simply proceed with your initiative, process the paperwork after the fact and beg forgiveness. At 4:55pm. Friday’s are best. Even bureaucracies have a purpose, it is still the managers’ job to get things done even when there is a burden.



You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *