Humanocracy: Doing Battle with Bureaucracy to Restore a Creative, Purpose-Driven Culture
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Future Fluency Brief

A quarterly compendium of insights, news, and resources for Asia Corporate Leadership Council members to keep abreast of corporate space

Humanocracy: Doing Battle with Bureaucracy to Restore a Creative, Purpose-Driven Culture

May 13, 2022 | Report

Insights for What’s Ahead

  • For purpose-driven companies in the modern era, aspects of the legacy systems and process models that have served well to continually cut costs and drive efficiencies must give way to more human-centric operating models where employees have greater agency and the potential for value added.
  • The 21st century requires a move away from ever more bureaucracy as an operating concept. This means reversing the “power-centric” and “risk-averse” corporate frameworks that over-invested in rules and controls and under-invested in enabling creative problem-solving done by people.
  • Bureaucracies intrinsically curtail “initiative,” “creativity,” and “daring” – the very attributes that the modern organization needs most to address the myriad and shifting stakeholder issues and expectations of this VUCA world.
  • Leaders and their bureaucracies are self-reinforcing, so it is a difficult cycle to break. But, to create a modern, purpose-driven organization, leaders must relinquish excessive bureaucratic control and empower employees at all levels with real decision-making power.


Three years ago, concepts like Corporate Purpose and Stakeholder Capitalism broke across the global landscape with the promise of generating a kinder, gentler, and yet equally profitable brand of business. With greater emphasis placed on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues, corporate pundits argued that organizations would enter a period of reinvention not seen since the digital revolution at the turn of the 21st century.

What we have since discovered is that, unlike past transformations fueled by massive investments in process reengineering and technology, this current revolution requires a more human touch. That confounds many of today’s top business leaders who grew up in an era of BPR, ERM and ABC1, etc. Whether “down-scaling” or “up-sizing,” “re-tooling” or “stream-lining,” there was always a technology for sale and consultant for hire to engineer a solution to establish relevant market competencies.


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Program Director, Asia Corporate Leadership Council of Singapore
The Conference Board

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