Bureaucrat's Handbook
Developing Antidotes for Bureaucracy


The Wizard of Oz
Invoking Phantom Authority

“Be sure to have this done by Thursday, the Vice President will be expecting it.” “If your delivery is late, what do you expect me to tell the General Manager?” “The Division Manager won't be happy to hear about your budget overrun.” “The Board will be making their decision next week, this has to be ready by then.” We tend to fear vague, mysterious, omnipotent authority figures who always seem to be out of reach and who are portrayed distant, shadowy, and heartless ogres who seem to be eager trample us at any time. Because this phantom authority is inaccessible, claims of almost unlimited power are difficult to dismiss or dispute.

This is often a ploy to bolster the power and authority of a manipulative bureaucrat by dropping the name of some inaccessible person who holds significant positional power. Check it out, look behind the curtain and find out if the Wizard is truly powerful, arbitrary, and heartless or reasonable, compassionate and thoughtful.

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