Structure

 By Lewis, J. Slater (Commercial Organization of Factories. Spon, 1896.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Lewis, J. Slater (Commercial Organization of Factories. Spon, 1896.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When you start your business, on your own, or as a small team of people who know each other well, it’s easy to remember why you’re doing the work, and who it’s for. It’s also easy to coordinate what you’re doing together so you’re efficient and profitable.

But once you get bigger than that, some sort of structure is needed, to make coordination possible at a larger scale.

For most of us, a hierarchy of management seems like the natural choice. It’s what we’ve grown up with. It’s what gets lauded in the press or shown on “The Apprentice”.

It isn’t the only choice though. There are other ways to enable coordination at scale – co-operation, LEAN, TEAL, Responsible Autonomy, that have been shown to be more effective than traditional hierarchy.

Here’s some questions to ask:

  • Do I want people to focus on ‘the boss’ or on ‘the customer’?

  • Do I want everyone to remember why they do what they do?

  • Do I want to grow my people as I grow my business?

  • Do I want people to follow procedure or take initiative?

  • Do I want my people to be obedient or responsible?

It’s easy to lose your values and your customer in the wrong structure.