Beat Bureaucracy

Four Simple Rules for Beating Bureaucracy

Find out who's in charge. Don’t complain to employees who have no authority to solve problems. Ask to speak to a supervisor. If necessary go all the way to the top.

Strategies for finding out who's in charge

Example: Ask to see a supervisor and don't take no for an answer. 

Be persuasive. Explain in detail why you should receive assistance. Be reasonable rather than cranky or accusing. Begin with a phone call but if that doesn't work, always put your case in writing and attach evidence—bureaucracies run on paper. If there is an official appeal process, use it.

Strategies for being persuasive

Example: Scathing Letter of Complaint

Be persistent. Don’t let the system wear you down. Wear it down. Don’t give up because you’re tired or frustrated—friends, family and support organizations can bring fresh ideas and energy to the battle.

Strategies for being persistent 

Examples of how friends and organizations can help you

If necessary push back, hard.  If your request is rejected, call the bureaucracy to account. Bureaucracies act invulnerable. They aren't. Find their weaknesses. They may fear bad news coverage or phone calls to government ministers or a web campaign against them.

Strategies for pushing back 

Example of how a newspaper columnist exposed a much-heralded government program as useless, forcing an embarrassed bureaucracy to shape up.