The three examples below are primarily from the world of technology: these are fast-moving organisations who can’t let layers of middle-management get in the way of getting a product or service to market. What I hope this overview of flatter hierarchies inspires you to do is to think carefully about your next re-organisation. Instead of shuffling the deckchairs, could you instead introduce one of these approaches?
I attended a meeting today. It began as it meant to go on: it was assumed and then stated explicitly that we all wanted to be home ASAP and that there was some stuff that needed to be done so we’d better get on and do it to meet our obligations and get it out of the way. It’s what I would term a ‘Grey Skies Meeting’.
We’ve all been to Grey Skies Meetings. They’re the ones where:
Something needs to be done but no-one wants to do it.
Problems are raised.
There is a strict hierarchy and everyone ‘knows their place’.
Saying anything that entails lengthy discussion is frowned upon and there is immense peer pressure not to do so.
Internal politics are at the forefront, the actual purpose of the organization is put on the backburner.
Quick solutions that tick boxes are welcomed.
I came away from the meeting somewhat downhearted. There were a few in that meeting who genuinely wanted things to move forwards in the same way that I did. But, for some of the reasons given above, they only expressed these ideas and thoughts before and after the meeting had taken place.
I want to work in a Blue Skies environment that has meetings whereby:
Opportunities are identified.
The reason for the organization’s existence guides the process and progress of the meeting.
People feel confident at putting forward ideas and concepts that aren’t necessarily full-formed, but point in the right direction.
A meritocracy operates: people’s contributions are judged by their usefulness rather than the position that the contributor holds or the length of time they’ve spent within the organization.
Smaller plans feed into a bigger plan.
The talents of the whole of the individual are used rather than their utility being defined by their position within the organization.
This isn’t a blog post about my school. It isn’t really about education per se. It’s about how our society operates and defines people. I want to be where there’s a blue sky. In fact, just saying that has made me remember ELO’s feelgood anthem Mr Blue Sky, which has cheered me up no end… :-p