The one thing we can always be certain of is that things keep changing and we don’t always know what those changes are going to bring. The big difference for organizations today is that change is happening faster, in other words more changes are occurring and the rate at which those changes are occurring are increasing. Hierarchies cannot possibly succeed in this type of an environment because they are too rigid. When most large companies try to move too quickly they break apart and crumble.
In a rapidly changing environment the only way to succeed is to give more people (not less!) access to information, authority, and decision making power to spot opportunities, come up with ideas, and generate solutions for problems that might be on the horizon. Organizations must get comfortable with experimentation and with trying things out to see what works and what doesn’t. Traditional corporate structures simply don’t allow for this type of maneuverability. Every organization I speak with or work with is telling me how they want to become “flatter” for this exact reason.
Hierarchies are great in static environments because they act as giant indestructible monoliths. But we live and work in a dynamic environment, are you willing to bet the future of your company on that type of a pyramid structure? I didn’t think so.
(Cross-posted @ The Future Workplace)