Beat Bureaucracy

Case study 6: What if you were in charge of a bureaucracy?
60 minutes

This case study is meant to give you a reverse perspective, an opportunity to understand the challenges of serving clients from a bureaucracy’s point of view. The more you understand about bureaucracies, the easier it becomes to help them provide you with service or, if necessary, to do battle with them.

Scenario: Repairing a broken bureaucracy after 9/11 

More than 2,500 people died in the terrorist attacks. Tens of thousands of their family members were severely affected. Dozens of aid agencies rushed to help. In this extreme situation it’s easy to understand why the initial system to assist the families had flaws — U.S. aid agencies had never dealt with a problem of such intensity and complexity.

Exercise: How to simplify a complicated web of family assistance

The aid agencies were overwhelmed by the enormity of the tragedy and, equally, by the avalanche of donations they received. Read the two New York Times articles and make a comprehensive list of changes that the agencies could have made to help the families of the people who died. In fact many of the agencies did make major changes when it became obvious that the system was not working well for the families.

Feedback on your work

Click here to see the Bureaucracy Navigator’s suggestions about this scenario.