above and below

One afternoon this week I was sitting in a meeting room with a manager in a local company. To help me understand some context, I asked how the company was organised. She jumped up to the whiteboard and drew a management hierarchy. With the CEO at the top. I hate hierarchies. Maybe it’s my problem, but I just don’t like people in an organisation thinking that they are somehow “above” others.

Wouldn’t it be great if people thought of their organisations in terms of responsibilities, interactions, client-supplier relationships? What if everyone – managers included – behaved as if they were performing a service as a role in a Collaboration? What if everyone respected the skills of the specialists around them?

Just once, I wish someone would talk about their job using CRC cards.

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3 thoughts on “above and below

  1. Maybe traditional management structures face the same problem of perception as you explain in your hexagonal architecture ideas? Since a hierarchy is represented as a pyramid, with one person on top, this implies that some people are “above” other people. Whereas what you are proposing sounds more like an hexagonal management structure, no?

  2. Nico, Interesting – and I hadn’t made (or noticed) the connection before! I certainly agree that there’s a metaphor at work, and that attributes of a physical pyramid might be transferred subconsciously onto the organisational hierarchy. But I suspect the hierarchy was there first. After all, the organisation could have been drawn with the “point” at the side or on the bottom; surely only ego placed the point at the top…?

    How would the organisation be perceived if the CEO was at the side? Would that change everyone’s perception? Would it change anyone’s behaviour?

  3. Pingback: entrenched positions « silk and spinach

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