From the Ask Tom mailbag –
You say that management initiatives (like communication, efficiency, goal setting and teamwork) will flounder if laid on the wrong structure. How do you get your structure right?
There are a number of steps, let’s take them one at a time.
Limit the number of layers to the minimum required. Layers are necessary, but no more than necessary.
Stephen Clement (co-author Chris Clement) in their book It’s All About Work, describe the non-warfighting side of the US Army with 12-15 layers, but the warfighting side only seven layers. Tested in the crucible of combat, too many layers between the top and the bottom got people killed. The US Army is a very large organization and only needs seven when it counts.
- S-I organization, typically a Mom and Pop who are self-employed only need one layer.
- S-II organization, is a Mom and Pop, self-employed, but want a day off. They need two layers.
- S-III organization, contains a single core function, does it well, with only a skeleton of support functions. Three layers.
- S-IV organization, has a robust internal core function with healthy, mature support functions, integrated together. Four layers.
- S-V organization, robust internal core function, integrated internal support functions, sensitive and responsive to external systems like market, regulatory, finance, labor, technology. Five layers.
Most domestic small to medium size businesses up to several thousand employees can be managed with no more than five layers between technical production (S-I) and the business unit president or CEO (S-V). Limit the number of layers to only what is necessary.