Chairman Ed

Connecting people, ideas and processes

Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Shaky Pyramid of the Hierarchical Organization

Looking at the Hierarchical Organization from the Outside

When I first started to learn about, and think about, alternative organizational forms, one of my explorations was to have an artist produce some images that I used in public presentations. This is one of illustrations which the artist generated, and that got me thinking about the hierarchical organizations that I had worked within.


The guy at the top has a great view. He can see further out than anyone else, but his head can be in the clouds. He really needs to keep everybody else in line or his position is at risk. The folks at the bottom are well grounded, but have very little freedom. If they should all decide to leave at once, the pyramid is in jeopardy, which is why unions are so powerful, sometimes.


Some people look like they can only deal internally with others in the pyramid, while others might be able to see or communicate with people outside the pyramid. Moving forward is a real challenge of coordination otherwise things could get very shaky.


What other thoughts does this illustration generate for you, based on your experience in hierarchical organizations?

From Owner Managers to Networks

How the corporation evolved - March 3, 1986

This diagram is from Business Week magazine. It is another illustration of organizational evolution, here with the focus on the Corporation. This diagram predates the time when the Internet began to get major public attention around 1994. It illustrates how computer technology enables network organizational forms.

Organizational Forms Over Human History

Network Form Enabled and Needed in the Information Age

Illustration from Jeff and Jessica's Book Cited in Earlier Post

Here is one view of how organizational forms developed over human history. The “information age” both enables and requires the network organization as a new form. It enables it because of the continuing evolution of the Internet and the tools that are being developed for coordination and collaboration. It requires it because knowledge must be used where ever it is found in an organization, and it cannot be assumed only to be located where the organization chart says it should be.