7 symptoms of excessive bureaucracy

Too much bureaucracy can not only stifle innovation and the pace of change, it can also cost companies financially. The U.S. economy wastes more than $3 trillion per year on excessive bureaucracy, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Although the benefits of unfettering a company from the constraints of bureaucracy are plenty, the obstacles are substantial. Bureaucracy is often deeply entrenched in both the culture and the operations of an organization, and for many managers it is the only way of doing things, according to the report.

Upending these norms is challenging. Doing so successfully requires "courage, a dose of righteous indignation, and, perhaps most critical, data," according to the report. The following seven symptoms of excess bureaucracy represent sources of waste to an organization — in money, time and energy, according to the Harvard Business Review.

1. Bloat: A swell of administrators and layers of management

2. Friction: Excess busywork that slows down the decision-making process

3. Insularity: Too much energy spent solving internal issues

4. Disempowerment: General lack of autonomy

5. Risk aversion: Institutionalized barriers to risk taking

6. Inertia: Stagnation amid pressure to change

7. Politics: Displaced energy on gaining power and influence

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