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Seeing red about red tape

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How can I develop an organisational structure without red tape?

Cuthbert Tembo, 
Harare, Zimbabwe



Startups are trying to challenge the status quo in almost every industry and sector, from healthcare to finance. One of the main obstacles to their success is red tape. Rules, regulations and compliance requirements can bring a quick end to an entrepreneur’s dreams of creating something truly different.


While there is not always a lot you can do about red tape except to find creative ways to fight your way through and around the thicket, you can take action to make sure that your company isn’t creating its own internal obstacles as it grows. Often, the bigger a company gets, the less responsibility and autonomy employees are given; instead, the hierarchy and bureaucracy takes over. Left unchecked, this too can destroy an enterprise.


The secret to fighting both kinds of red tape is to maintain your company’s spirit of curiosity; keep continuing to question the way people do business. Disruptive innovation is part of a startup’s culture, inherent to how it operates, so hang onto that. We at Virgin have prided ourselves on getting this right over the past four decades.


I have often talked about the need for a business’s founder to delegate day-to-day control of operations so that he or she can focus on the future of the business. You were the person who had the original vision for the enterprise, so you must be the person who takes on the mission of answering basic questions like “Can we do it better?” and “How can we improve?”—this is what you need to know to move your idea forward.




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