Org chart obsoletion

A few short decades ago, when bureaucracy was the norm, hierarchy and formality were seen as essential to an organization's success. The idea of "trusting your employees", would have been an executive water cooler joke. And the org chart would have been required reading for all line managers hoping for a raise.

Today's organizations look different.

The days of going up the chain of command are mostly behind us [else: you work in the private sector]. Organizations are adopting increasingly horizontal structures, rendering modern org charts fundamentally obsolete.

There is good reason for this: bureaucracy inhibits productivity and innovation.

Flattened structures empower middle managers with greater autonomy over decision making. With red-tape removed, managers gain the freedom to communicate across silos, able to adopt a more systems thinking approach. Said differently, they begin leveraging their formal and informal networks of communication.

While formal networks are reflected in an org chart, informal networks cannot be. Informal communication, by its nature, does not follow any pre-defined channels. It flows naturally as it might with any other group of people; bouncing around until it finds its groove, fostering relationships and feedback loops.

In this regard, the org chart falls short. It's utility maximized in the age of bureaucracy. In the age of technology, understanding how an organization operates means understanding the flow of the organization’s greatest asset: information.

The future of the org chart will help us do just that.

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