Is Vertical Hierarchy Dying

In the future, is everybody equal? March 13, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
Is vertical hierarchy dying? I see more and more organizations getting flatter in their structure and doing much better with their human resources. Whatís your opinion?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor S:
From my perspective every organization should strive to flatten out the levels of management. Why would anyone want more? I view management as mud (waste). It is to be eliminated through the application of technology and lean production practices. We cannot eliminate all of it (although companies with web based sales and automatic sales to warehouse and shipping solutions come very close).

From Contributor W:
I run a team with no secretary and all calls forwarded to cell phones. Everyone has smart phones and iPads and large drawings and parts are outsourced (non-slab doors). All are cross-trained with each having their specialty in their desired interest. All know the money is right for them to meet their needs and how it is obtained.

From Contributor V:
Of course I am doing millwork drawings as an outsourcer, have been for years, but a major client of mine is in a completely different industry - mining equipment manufacture. They had me as an hourly employee in the typical cubefarm corporate game, then they basically laid me off so they could hire me as a consultant so I would have the freedom to break the established hierarchy employees are stuck in. I get to go direct to who I need to in order to make things happen and have freedom even my managers don't have. They treat me better because at any time I can tell them to hang and it lets me focus on getting the task at hand done. They know this and tend to just get out of my way. There is no reason a regular employee shouldn't be able to do the same, but the established order bucks that from happening. So yes, I think companies that are able to be flexible and respond quickly to a changing business environment will excel while companies stuck in the old way will find it hard to adapt and will suffer.

From the original questioner:
Wow! Interesting responses. It is true that depending on the business you do and the psyche of the employees the organizational structure needs to be tailor made. People indeed look to grow, so flatter organizations do not always work. Also a vertical hierarchy with too many levels will only made the work environment complicated and full of politics. A balance needs to be gained in this scenario.

From Contributor J:
In a nutshell itís not dead - vertical hierarchy is timeless. Of course everyone should eliminate waste in a process or organization, but making the assumption that Hierarchal management structures are wasteful is a grave and dangerous error that would limit your strategic growth opportunities in any business.

A perfect organizational structure involving all levels of people would be any branch of the military. There is a reason for each and every level - the answers and reasons may surprise you. In a small operation, the hierarchy still exists you just canít readily see it as wall as you can in a larger organization. The General (Owner) will also wear the hats of the Colonel (Sales Manager), Major (Salesman), and Captain (Order Processor) and sometimes even the private (unloading that truck). I would argue that the proper hierarchy adds clarity and efficiency to any operation. The difficulty lies in scaling the organization to your current and future business (assuming you have a plan to grow).