Thursday, January 31, 2008

Org Chart Blues – Vanquished.

I've worked in organizations of 100 to 500 people who experienced horrible, traumatic events with org charts. Imagine a wide sheet of paper full of boxes, showing all the managerial hierarchy. Now I'll tell you about my two favorite disasters:

(1) There was a hurried layoff and a reorg. We all got together in the auditorium to be told what a much better company we were now. Somebody asked about the org chart. “It's not ready yet,” we were told. We knew what that meant: the remaining high level managers were still arguing about who manages whom. Five unsure months passed, during which, as you might guess, there was no sure hand on the tiller. At last, we got an org chart. The next reorg followed a few weeks later.

(2) There was a gigantic, hurried reorg. We all got together in the auditorium to be told how the organization had refocused on its goals. The new org chart was passed out,and a speaker started to explain it.
One of the six most senior managers in the room howled “I'm not on the org chart!”
“See me later,” said the speaker. No, the fellow was not fired, but he was off the org chart for a trembly month.

The company I work at now has no such problems, because it does not seem to have a classical org chart. There is a data base anyone can consult to look up people's phone numbers, office addresses, and also who they manage, and who manages them. And of course it's kept up to date, as much as Murphy's Law and the old classical uncertainties allow. If this new-fangled org chart is totally out of kilter, nobody might notice, because you can only see a little piece of it at a time. I was thinking about that today when I looked up the person responsible for my work. According to the “org chart” we are in a tight loop: he oversees my work, and my work is overseen by him; and he reports to nobody. (But of course he DOES report to somebody, the “org chart” is just a wee bit behind the times.)
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