Authorised vs Productive

Jason Yip
1 min readJan 1, 2024

Migrated and modified from my old blog.

Via Systems Leadership: Creating Positive Organisations,

A useful way to analyse systems and organisational behaviour is to ask how authorised and productive they are:

2x2 matrix: Authorised / Unauthorised vs Productive / Counter-Productive. Authorised and Productive: Well designed and implemented; Authorised and Counter-Productive: excessive red tape bureaucracy; Unauthorised and productive: breaking rules to get things done; Unauthorised and Counter-Productive: Alternative leadership based on power. Personal gain at the expense of the organisation.
Authorised vs Productive
  • Our target is Authorised and Productive systems which are those that are effective to get work done and are supported by the bureaucracy.
  • Authorised and Counter-Productive is the classic problem with excessive red tape.
  • Unauthorised and Productive are workarounds necessary to get things done. The problem with this quadrant is that it indicates that the organisation is missing opportunities to learn. However, this is also the quadrant where innovation occurs.
  • The final quadrant of Unauthorised and Counter-Productive is about systems and behaviour based on intimidation and bending the rules for personal, rather than organisational, benefit. Anything in this quadrant should be eradicated.

Related

  • There is a similar discussion in IT Governance about the problem with “renegade” but productive processes.
  • NOTE: “authorised” implies “known” and “explicit” but the reverse isn’t true. It is possible for processes and systems to be “known” and are not really supported by the organisational bureaucracy so much as tolerated.

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Jason Yip

Senior Manager Product Engineering at Grainger. Extreme Programming, Agile, Lean guy. Ex-Spotify, ex-ThoughtWorks, ex-CruiseControl