Throw away the organization chart

Thanks for sharing this quote on twitter:

“I’ve often thought that after you get organized, you ought to throw away the organization chart.” – David Packard (@XLNTCultures)

We work with many complex organizations in matrix, virtual and global working. Particularly in matrix management, we see a lot of emphasis initially on structure change.

Structure is important because it makes us pay attention and influences key measures and reporting relationships. In many cases, the structure debate is a coded way of talking about power: who gets to make decisions and own resources.

But in a matrix structure solves nothing by itself. Once I have two bosses, the reporting lines no longer help.  I have to make decisions that cannot be resolved by recourse to just one source of power or reporting line.

It is mindset and skills that makes the difference between matrix management success and failure. Once we have used the structure to make people realise they need to pay attention to more than just the traditional vertical silos,  the debate changes to ask “do we have the systems and skills needed to deliver work that cuts across the traditional silos?”.

Matrix management requires the skills to work across distance, cultures, time zones, through technology, and in a complex organization structure. In the matrix, multiple bosses, competing goals and influence without authority become the norm.

Imagine you threw away the organization chart. Do you have the networks, communities, teams and groups in place to get the necessary work done? Do the forms of cooperation that actually get the work done bear any resemblance to the formal organization structure?

What is your experience?


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