How can you make an organization go flat? As I’ve constantly been stating, change does NOT happen overnight yet we need it in order to grow, personally and professionally. So, the same concept is going to be applied to when an organization is looking to transfer from a hierarchal structure to a flat(ter) structure, too. “Yay…growing pains…” is probably what you’re thinking sarcastically: am I right? Well when you can motivate yourself to go through all these challenges, why not paint a “destination postcard” for yourself?
This concept of “destination postcard” was first introduced to me via Chip and Dan Heath in their book Switch, (a highly entertaining and recommended read about inducing change). Hard to get somewhere, anywhere, if you don’t know where you’re going: am I right, again? You just end up going around in circles, completely lost, desperately trying to find someone to ask for directions, (at least not if you’re a guy on that last point). I love the destination postcard because, like most postcards you get from traveling relatives or friends, it portrays the ideal paradise and somewhere you want to be other than where you are currently. Does the phrase “Wish you were here!” pop into your head? Or, better yet, the grumbling and jealous response you told yourself because you knew they didn’t really wish you were there?
Visualizing where you want to be will help determine the first step [to becoming flat].
So, with the destination postcard thoroughly explained and the flat structure being a completely foreign concept to our traditional business practices, what’s the first step to booking our trip to a effective, productive, and satisfying work environment? To keep with the traveling holiday analogy, you would scope out the sites, attractions, events, restaurants, and other places you would want to attend/see while you were there. Same goes for planning your flat organization: what do you want to see happen with a flat business structure? Does employees self-assigning themselves projects sound appealing to you? Or are you not sure you have the budget to hire the right people yet, so smaller groups that decide on their projects on a case-by-case basis tickle your fancy for now? Your company doesn’t have to nail the ideal vacation on the first try or even have it within your current budget, but visualizing where you want to be will help determine the first step, (…and maybe admitting you have a problem).
With manufacturers, this can be an extreme challenge because, well, you got production, huge machines, bigger warehouses, and to be able to get product out the door right now efficiently it’s usually easier to have each employee to become “subject matter experts.” But, easy isn’t always better. Back to our traveling holiday analogy, I didn’t just drop a couple thousand dollars for my ideal vacation, (a.k.a. get a degree or certification) to just go see ONE attraction, (a.k.a. do just one job with questionable positive impact). I want to get my money’s worth from my vacation and have a fantastically memorable time! AKA: I want to get my money’s worth from my education, training, and experiences to continuously make powerful and positive impacts on my community! How else is your company going to get the most out of your employees without allowing them to work on the jobs they want to work? Also, this allows for the employee to learn about the company from “seed to shelf” and understand their individual impact in the big picture. Painting a pretty destination right? Next, we’ll talk about booking our ticket!
Tell me about a company you know of that allows for freedom in trying different responsibilities within the organization and how it impacted your professional career.
Photo credit: http://claireabellemakes.com/tag/travel-smashbook/