No one would ever use the National Security Agency as a case study in liberal management or even decent fairness. But alongside News International and BP, the NSA lends itself all too well as an example of stifling, self-defeating bureaucracy in action. Hence this gem from last year's New Yorker investigation into the government's case against Thomas Drake, who is accused of leaking documents to the old warhorse The Baltimore Sun, that embarrassed the NSA (the worst thing anyone can do to a government agency).
Here's what General Michael Hayden, who took over the agency in 1999, did when he found out Drake and several of his colleagues had criticised the NSA's extraordinary waste, illegal behaviour nad ineffective bureaucracy to a Congresswoman:
"Hayden...sent out an agency-wide memo, in which he warned that several 'individuals, in a session with our congressional overseers, took a position in direct opposition to one that we had corporately decided to follow. . . . Actions contrary to our decisions will have a serious adverse effect on our efforts to transform N.S.A., and I cannot tolerate them.'”
Now there's a man who really understands how innovation happens in an organisation.