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?