1. Your ideas are not recognized
The number one reason that you are not in a meritocracy is that no one cares about your ideas. If you are reading this then you probably already understand that. The problem is evidently some people don’t. Some people have the weird idea that just because they are in America, they are in a meritocracy.
2. Your ideas are obviously harvested by others
Sounds obvious but some think that if the best ideas win (as in they get implemented), then they are in a meritocracy. I would beg to differ. If your idea gets implemented and the merit and reward for that idea go elsewhere, you are not in a meritocracy. There are many ways that this can happen which leads us to ...
3. You are in a non-meritorious hierarchy
If you have a good idea, and then it gets implemented with the credit getting spread up the chain of the command ... this seems to be non-meritorious in my book. Can you blog about your idea without jumping through excessive hoops for permission? If the answer is no, then you are probably in a non-meritorious hierarchy .
4. You don’t get compensated for your idea
Evidently this is a controversial idea. I can’t really see why. If you have a good idea and you implement that idea, you should be compensated proportionately for it. The reward for that idea shouldn’t go up the chain.
5. Your compensation scheme is complicated
Don’t know how the reward from your ideas makes it’s way to you? Then it probably won’t.
6. Your compensation scheme is exploitable
There are some incentive schemes for ideas that have holes in them so big you can drive a truck through them.
7. You receive plenty of firm specific training
If you are excessively trained in skills that aren’t very transferrable in your local market, in the short term this is great for your employer but not so great for you. The result is you and your ideas are locked in to your current job. Combine this with a hierarchy and it makes your meritocracy dubious.
8. No one knows the monetary value of what they produce
If you don’t know the monetary value of your idea, you don’t know how much effort you need to spend marketing it up the chain or to the free market itself. This is more of a problem with company (or meritocracy) values than with process.
9. No one knows how to sell their services on the market
If you can’t sell your services on the market, your ideas are ripe for harvesting to the only buyer in town (your employer). You should at least have a passing idea of the sales process involved with your idea.
10. You are playing market
You are playing market when a resource that is allocated to you for your idea can be taken away at any time by your chain of command. The outcome of playing market is the innovator (you) will recognize that their compensation can be adversely affected by those in the ivory towers when it suits them. This incentivizes short term thinking (and kills long term ideas).
11. Empire building is a valid strategy
Those who can, do. Those who can’t, create bureaucracy.
12. Managers empower only inasmuch as they get the credit
Whenever the 90 day rule for managers is in effect or empire building is the law of the land, meritocracies lose
13. There is no official way to communicate and recognize ideas
If you work 40 hours a week of billable time, there is no time to develop and work on your idea. If you work 32 hours a week with 8 hours of idea time, then there is no time to sell your idea. You need to have an official way to communicate those ideas and get feedback
For more detailed information about false meritocracies, check out the Harvestocracy white paper.