Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Best practices for building a better table of organization – 3: flattening the table

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on November 19, 2011

This is my third installment in a series on tables of organization, how they are usually structured and developed, and what can go wrong under the standard practice model (see HR and Personnel, postings 65 and 67.)

In earlier series installments I outlined a basic problem in which functionality and specific capacity to provide value to the organization, become subservient to position on the table of organization and to operational practice. Perhaps the commonest single approach taken in attempting to limit that and related problems that I have touched upon in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, can be described as flattening the table of organization.

When startup founders break out of the ongoing security and momentum – and out of the rut of working for others and for an established organization, one of the reasons they would do this is frustration that the organization they were working for cannot and will not reach out to new opportunities that they can see. And whether they articulate this frustration in terms of the table of organization, or in terms of problems and challenges faced in working with specific individuals in that system, the result tends to be the same. They seek to open up communications and to create new value by flattening the table of organization – and often as a long term goal that would be sustained as head count rises and their new enterprise takes off.

A flatter table of organization with improved, more open capabilities for communication and collaboration in the creation of efficiencies and marketable value can become a basis for marketplace strength in and of itself. But the improvements that this change can bring up-front can slip and disappear if the entire focus is on addressing symptoms and outcomes and real change isn’t made in the underlying model that serves to organize and build the table of organization. And here I cite both this series and my coordinately developing series on compensation package policy as that connects strongly into both hiring and promotions, and into how the table of organization is populated (see HR and Personnel, postings 63, 64, 66 and 68).

• Simply seeking to address business inefficiencies by flattening the table of organization can become an exercise in addressing symptoms while leaving underlying causes unattended.
• I have written in this blog about interactive information architectures and about building an Intranet 2.0 (see for example, Connecting an organization together, version 2.0.)
• But the problems I write of here cannot be addressed long term simply by applying technology patches either.
• Long term, successful resolution of the issues and problems that I write of here call for systematic, long term rethinking of the organization and how it fits together.
• And that means thinking through and strategically reframing the table of organization and the compensation package policy, and hiring and promotions policies that serve to create it.

I am going to turn in part four of this series to an alternative approach to the standard table of organization, that starts with functionality and where that becomes the primary driver and motivator for operational process. And as a foretaste to that, I note here that the core of this approach can be found in how line positions and in-house consultant positions add value, and the relationships between those positions and more static support positions.

You can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 2 and the first 200 postings in this general directory at Business Strategy and Operations. You can also find this series at HR and Personnel.

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