Who’s at the top of your company’s organisational chart? Most of those I see have exactly the same format: one person at the top, with a row of other senior managers below, then rows of divisional heads, etc. Take a look on Google Images to see what I mean. On that basis, if the pyramid went down far enough, you’d probably see the sales or production staff at the bottom, holding up the whole organisation.
This tweet reminded me how upside down that is. A tree is much more representative than a pyramid. At the bottom are the senior management – the roots and trunk of the tree, as it were, providing stability. Then, as the tree reaches up, it branches into levels of management closer to the front line, and finally into the front line staff (the workers), who are the leaves. Customers are the environment that the organisation interacts with.
It’s easy to say that’s all a bit hippy-dippy, but it’s a healthier and refreshing way of depicting an organisation which I think many would be wise to follow. It reflects how most people would want it to work: freedom for the front-line workers to innovate, with support from management, rather than the front line feeling that its role is to take the weight of management. The fewer people above you in an organisation, the less negative pressure you’re subjected to.