How Flat Is Your World?

I've been listening to Thomas Friedman's book The World is Flat recently (I love books on CD). I have a couple of thoughts: First, I think everyone in business should read it. I think the man is brilliant for packaging such wisdom. I'm recommending it as a "must read" to the audience at my next Brand You seminar.

Second, if companies must be flat (less hierarchical) to thrive in the business environment today and in the future ... how does an existing company go about accomplishing this? (Aside from eliminating "middle management"). I've never worked in a company that didn't have a hierarchical structure (i.e., must be "A" before you can be "B" & up the ladder you go). How does a company free itself of this structure and mindset? Is it possible to get rid of the traditional "organizational chart"? Even if you invert it (leadership on bottom w/ line-level/customer on top), there is still hierarchy, isn't there? There is still a clearly defined path to follow. Isn't that what needs to go away ... the "talent development path"? It implies a straight line to somewhere—don't we have to develop people who can zig and zag?