PRINCIPLES OF MANAGEMENT

The 5 Types Of Organizational Structures: Part 4, Flatarchies

1. Please provide leadership competencies/ Source for Chief Financial Officer (LSN) Overview: This leader oversees the day-to-day operations of the finance department. This leader is expected to aid i 1

Jacob Morgan

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I write about and explore the future of work!

This is part four of a five part post that explores various types of organizational structures that either already exist in today’s business landscape or are starting to emerge as viable options for the future of work. Each post will explore one of these structures and then I’ll provide a final summary post on all five. These concepts and ideas are taken from my book, The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization. The five types of organizational structures that I will explore are:

1. Please provide leadership competencies/ Source for Chief Financial Officer (LSN) Overview: This leader oversees the day-to-day operations of the finance department. This leader is expected to aid i 2

Somewhere in between hierarchies and flat organizations lie flatarchies. These types of companies are a little bit of both structures. They can be more hierarchical and then have ad-hoc teams for flat structures or they can have flat structures and form ad-hoc teams that are more structured in nature. Organizations with this type of structure are very dynamic in nature and can be thought of a bit more like an amoeba without a constant structure.

The most common type of example with this structure is a company with an internal incubator or innovation program. In this type of an environment the company operates within an existing structure but usually allows employees to suggest and then run with new ideas. Ideas that company allows employees to move forward with usually result in separate teams being formed. Lockheed Martin, the aerospace company, was famous for launching their skunkworks project which was responsible for the design of the SR-71 spy plane. Google, 3M, Adobe, Linkedin, and many other companies all have internal innovation incubators where employees can try to get their ideas funded and then developed into new products or services. However to do this, new teams must be formed which oftentimes must operate with far more autonomy, more resources, and much less bureaucracy.

This type of a structure can work within any type of company large or small. However a flatarchy is to be thought of as a more temporary structure which creates isolated pockets of new structures when needed, such as in the case of developing a new product or service. This is starting to become more common as organizations around the world invest more time and money into creating innovation programs that look beyond a set R&D department. It’s not hard to imagine having a permanent structure as a “flatter organization” which then gives employees the opportunity to create special teams when needed.

This model is quite powerful yet also more disruptive than the other structures explored. The main benefit here is the focus on innovation which is quite a strong competitive advantage in the future of work.

Jacob Morgan is a keynote speaker, author (most recently of The Future of Work), and futurist. To have Jacob speak at your event, to get access to his videos, podcasts and articles, or to subscribe to his newsletter you can visit TheFutureOrganization.

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