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The Flat Organisation Structure Trend

Flat organisations: the teams that routinely outperform.

By Martin Kahn

Martin is Oakwood's Associate Learning Consultant and works in our Associate Team
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Has the era of Command and Control leadership finally died? The new trend for Flatter Organisation Charts is creating autonomous, strategically -aligned teams who routinely outperform their traditional hierarchical counterparts. let's find out why Flat Organisations are doing so well.

The traditional hierarchical structure in many large organisations is giving way to flatter, de-layered  squads, tribes and chapters as can be seen in companies like Google and Netflix. Few, if any, organisational charts exist.Recently I’ve become very interested in this new trend. Is transformation like this possible for large multinationals and very mature companies with entrenched ideologies and cultures? How do you even begin to challenge this with these organisations’ leadership teams being made up of mostly Gen X’s and older? Many of these people will have reached their positions of power through the belief that a job is only done right if they do it themselves. Or, that the corporate ladder is there to be climbed one painful rung at a time. 

Delegation and trust are often in short supply and political manoeuvring and internal competition are healthy ways to succeed in the world of work. Many believe that they have earned their power by doing it themselves. This now gives them the right to become ‘Thinkers’ and ‘Delegators’ rather than ‘Doers’ or ‘Activists’. The danger of course is: what kind of message are they passing on to the next generation of leaders, who are looking to them to role model leadership behaviour?

A few years ago I read an article in HR Today that was titled: ‘The age of the rock start CEO is over’. Since then I’ve become increasingly aware of organisations who are stripping out their multi layered approach to management, and no longer gazing blindly up expecting the organisations’ problems to be solved by a select few at the top. 

The age of the autonomous, self empowered team is here.

When Martin Danoestrastro, a global financial consultant took a group of bankers to view one of these modern companies he asked some key questions to their employees including: “who do you report to?”, “who sets your priorities?” And “how many people are working for you?” The answer he got to all 3 questions was : It Depends.  He claims these organisations felt more like big start ups rather than large multi nationals worth billions of dollars. 

The key to their success is simple: 

Multi disciplinary teams working harmoniously and in strategic alignment. 

No more marketers sitting with other marketers or engineers sitting with other engineers. These teams are empowered to make decisions first and then ask permission later without getting bogged down in red tape or convoluted communication strategies passing up and down the line. Instead horizontally integrated agile mini start up teams composed of engineers, marketing experts, tech support and customer service reps all aligning behind one common purpose: enhancing the customer experience.

Danoestrastro asks one key question:

“What are you prepared to give up in order to create this kind of new work paradigm?” 

The answers are: Micro Management, Command and Control leadership style and Bureaucracy. Sounds like heaven to this Gen X’er.

If you are interested in learning more, here at Oakwood International we offer a range of qualifications in coaching and mentoring: why not join our thousands of successful students in developing your skills and career this way? 

Contact us for more information at info@oakwooddubai.ae or call one of our expert programme advisors on +971 4 359 9020.

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