Redesigning an Hierarchical Organization (1.32)

Those of us leading organizations or designing them, have a practical problem today moving us into “hierarchical” thinking — concern for IRS regulations and rules moves us in that direction.  I’ve discussed that reality earlier in my blog, but suffice it to say that the IRS holds a Board responsible.  The Board chooses the CEO.  The CEO chooses their managers who ensure that the workers do the job.  Hey . . . that’s hierarchy without any planning!

Jacob Morgan, in his article, “The Collaborative Organization,” suggests collaborative technologies applied well can unleash workers to be the best they can be.  Below are key thoughts from Jacob’s article for your interest and reflection.  He is also an author and his book is highlighted below.

From “need-to-know” to collaborative technologies

“The range of collaborative technologies emerging today allows employees to connect with each other and information, any time, anywhere, and on any device. While many leaders look at the onslaught of devices and apps and new technologies as a problem to be solved, the most effective leaders today aggressively support any tools that enable employees to connect, contribute, choose, and create.

It needs to be easy for an employee in California to find a co-worker in Beijing. It needs to be easy for an entry-level employee to start a dialogue with an executive, even though they may have never met face to face.

Collaborative technologies are also crucial in developing leaders. In the new world of work, leaders create themselves. They share their ideas, content, and feedback in a public way, which attracts followers within the organization. Anyone can become a thought leader or subject matter expert.

From controlling management to boundary-breaking work

At every turn, leaders must ask themselves, “How does this support our vision of breaking down boundaries?”  How can employee on-boarding be changed?  What about talent management?  Perhaps when employees are brought on board they are taken through a collaboration scavenger hunt where they must find and connect with colleagues around the world; something telecommunications company TELUS does for new recruits.

What if instead of semi-annual reviews, you go with a system of real-time feedback on a collaborative platform?  Why not create a company leader-board around health and wellness so that different geographic regions can see how they compare to one another.

What if employees “narrated” their work in a public way so that everyone and anyone can see what they are working on?  Every built-in management process is an opportunity for unleashing more human potential.  The job of leaders and managers is to fundamentally rethink and re-design that core.”


“Unlocking human potential is the new competitive advantage.  But it’s not as simple as expressing good intentions at the top.  And it’s not enough to proclaim, “our people are our most important assets.”  Every leader must do the hard work of breaking down boundaries and rethinking the most deeply held assumptions about work.  It’s the difference between winning and losing in the future.” — Jacob Morgan

What are you or your organization doing to break down the boundaries that constrain human potential?

Jacob Morgan is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, The Collaborative Organization: A Strategic Guide to Solving Your Internal Business Challenges Using Social and Collaborative Tools (McGraw Hill).

This post originally appeared on Gary Hamel’s M-Prize site for unlocking human potential


About Dave Grissen

David & Sheri Grissen spent 44 years in mission and humanitarian aid work. In 2003 they established Life Impact, a ministry of strengthening Christian workers in hosted centers, called Oases. Presently 12 Oases are functioning. In 2016 they started Fund The Ministry to help missionaries create new funding for their ministries. They have five married children and fifteen grandchildren.
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