Overturning pyramids

pyramid by frankh
It’s Time to Invert the Management Pyramid
[Via HarvardBusiness.org]

As time passes by, people and things change. Now, what if time passes by and people change, but things that should change, don’t?

It is not a stationary relic I’m talking about. I’m talking about the brand new dinosaur on the block – the classical management pyramid. Time has come to dismantle it and adapt to a new evolutionary and unstructured model that leverages the team effect to ensure that companies can lead change rather play catch up or be left behind.

A little rewind might be in order here to make my point. The management pyramid, as we know it, began to take shape around the early 1900s. There were two important factors that influenced the classical (traditional) management school of thought: The Industrial Revolution and the World Wars.

The Industrial Revolution brought along with it the problem of management and the Wars brought with them the solution.
In every war there was the General, the man who controlled and commanded. He had ‘managers’ who reported to him; these managers in turn had several ‘assistant managers’ who reported to them, and the whole configuration went on to make the traditional organizational structure, or the Management Pyramid.


This is a very interesting article. It identifies the need to make organization less centralized. More bottom-up, less top-down. The organizations that can accomplish this with be more innovative. Those that fail will not be competitive.

This will not be easy. But, as with any selective system such as capitalism, the organizations that can more quickly harness innovation and creativity will more rapidly solve complex problems and become more successful.

The last part of the post is particularly important, regarding the task ahead.

Simple as it may sound, the truth is that this is a very tough task. The question we must ask ourselves is whether we have within ourselves the fortitude to deconstruct the traditional power centres so that more emphasis is placed on the troops instead of the General.

Business models have to change. In a football game, there are 22 players but only one has the ball at any particular time. The other 21 are forming a configuration. The open-ended structure we are in is not about the man with the ball, but about the configuration of the other 21 people.

Every forward-thinking organization has to carry out a reality check about its willingness and capacity to unstructure so that it can adapt to the new 22nd century business ecosystem.

So, do we have the vision to look upon our organizations as collaborative and evolutionary life forms that must keep changing along with the marketplace? Do we have the humility to step out of our egos and hand over the mike to our subordinates? Do we possess the courage to unstructure an existing, rigid regime that we have known to work in the past?

We often accept the verdict of the past and slumber into the cushioned inertia of best practices, until the need for change cries out loudly enough to stir us out of our comfort zones. It is time.

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