I have an irrational hatred for bureaucracy. It is probably why I always find bones to pick with the civil service. But bureaucracy is only the symptom. What I truly have an issue with is inefficiency.
Centralized systems are efficient
There is a reason why the internet has been converging or has already converged into a pile of centralized platforms. There is Google for search, Facebook for communications, Cloudflare for website protection. And it makes sense because you gain efficiency with scale; and hence profits.
But with centralized systems, you have to trust them to do the right thing.
- For Google and Facebook to not sell your privacy to the highest bidder
- For Cloudflare to not act as a regulator of the internet
Trust leads to efficiency
Historically, my company Nubela has been known to build amazing things at superhuman speeds. I have two secrets for that. First, I hire great programmers. Secondly, I trust and allow the programmers to do their work absent of distractions.
This is how we built a full-blown cryptocurrency exchange in five months. Or a content distribution network in three months. Proxycurl in a week. Gom in a weekend.
We were able to ship because we had a small elite team — a special force of programmers.
But I am shamelessly adding bureaucracy into the company
Trust is not sustainable. My biggest takeaway in the last five years that I have been running a business is that I do not scale. Neither do individuals in the company. This is why I began enforcing documentation for every work that is to be built. And instead of verbalizing tasks, all tasks are now specified in written words and managed in our task management platform.
Sure, now everyone from the product team to the marketing team has added responsibilities to document their processes and provide daily written updates. Everyone's productivity took a slight 5% dip, but the company is now able we can scale 10x.
Also, I noticed an interesting side effect that most people do not mind a tinge of bureaucracy as it adds a healthy sense of formality into the office space.
Long story short, bureaucracy is inevitable to scale an organization. So the equation becomes, then how can I add the least amount of bureaucracy to gain the maximum amount of scalability? My answer is to hire a software engineer as a CEO, like me :)