- Getty/Win McNamee
- JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon just released his annual shareholder letter.
- In it, he calls bureaucracy “a disease” and outlines five ways JPMorgan seeks to combat it.
- For example, the company limits internal meetings, continually rethinks standard processes, and stays self-critical.
In his latest annual shareholder letter, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon addressed the topic of bureaucracy in large companies like his.
Bureaucracy, he wrote, is “a disease” that “drives out good people, slows down decision making, kills innovation and is often the petri dish of bad politics.”
Leaders should always be actively trying to combat the growing threat of bureaucracy in their organizations, he said. Dimon shared five ways in which JPMorgan does just that:
1. It limits internal meetings
These can be a “giant waste of time and money,” Dimon wrote. If a meeting is absolutely necessary, the organizer needs to prepare a focused agenda and send around materials in advance; and the meeting participants have to reach clear decisions.
Sound familiar? Other business leaders have expressed the same squeamishness around unnecessary meetings.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, for example, often starts meetings with a period of silence so that everyone can read over the materials and think about what they want to say. That way, the rest of the meeting is more productive.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk reportedly tells people who stay quiet in meetings: “You haven’t said anything. Why are you here?”
2. It creates ‘war rooms’ to focus on pressing issues
In addition to keeping meetings focused and efficient, JPMorgan assigns small groups of people to tackle individual problems in the business.
Dimon writes: “Each war room is staffed with a dedicated group of employees tasked with solving specific problems within a set number of weeks or months.”
The war rooms created at JPMorgan last year handle issues including client onboarding and vendor and third-party management, Dimon wrote.
3. It continually rethinks standard company processes
Dimon calls it “reimagining.” He writes: “You can get all the right people in the room to think about a certain process and reimagine how it could be done from the ground up.”
One problem-solving team recently reimagined customer experience at JPMorgan. Dimon wrote that they identified several “questions and protocols that had become outdated or been made redundant by recent controls” and worked to change or eliminate them.
4. It stays self-critical
Another “disease” Dimon points out: “complacency.” He writes, “It is usually borne out of arrogance or success, but it is a guarantee of future failure.”
To prevent complacency, Dimon says JPMorgan management analyzes its own actions and points out its own weaknesses.
Dimon’s observations recall those of psychologist Tasha Eurich, author of “Insight.”
Eurich uses the term “CEO disease” to describe the phenomenon in which the higher you ascend on the corporate ladder, the less self-aware you become. Eurich recommends that all leaders encourage their staff to share honest feedback with them, even pinpointing a single person who can do that really well.
5. It emphasizes autonomy
“Agile management” is Dimon’s riff on the term “agile technology.” He writes: “Small teams of people responsible for products and services work with technologists to improve the customer experience.”
The key here is giving people the freedom to make the decisions they think are best.
Dimon says, “To do this, they must be given the necessary authority and resources. It is also important they understand that they can make mistakes without punishment.”