in Workplace

The Approval Bubble

Bureaucracy lives inside a bubble. Things hit the approval layer and can’t break through towards progress where we actually ship and get things done.

That’s where the tools come in.

ARTISANS: The people who do the work. They care about their craft and just want to see it reach the people who need it.

BIRDS: Birds want to sing. The key is making sure that you can get on the same song as the birds. These are your stakeholders, but they can be anyone who you need consensus from.

CHAMELEONS: They can be whatever they need to be in order to get through the process. Sometimes, they are artisans because the work required needs them to be. Other times, they are birds because they have a stake in the process that requires them to speak up. Chameleons can break through small bubbles, but not big ones and that’s where they need help. They do have the skills to convince hammers.

HAMMERS: Hammers can break through anything. The problem is, what they leave behind isn’t always elegant or usable. The key is to find a hammer that can apply the right kind of pressure without being too much.

The thing about the approval bubble is many companies have layers of approval bubbles. Sometimes, you can break through smaller bubbles easy, only to find that harder ones never break.

Is it ideal to have an company with fewer approval bubbles? Or is it just ideal to know how to break through the ones that exist? Who creates bubbles?

All of us.