Hierarchy as Framework

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Can the hierarchy change based upon the nature of the work?

Hierarchy is just a framework. The framework gets populated only by those functions and roles necessary (Lee Thayer) for the work of the mission. So, yes, it changes.

A painting contractor with 20 employees is likely an S-II organization. Team members play roles as painters, and helpers at S-I with a supervisor and a scheduler at S-II.

A software developer may have no team members at S-I, with coders at S-II and S-III. If it’s complex software, likely a senior project manager at S-IV, CEO at S-V.

Structure may also change over time. Many years ago, I worked for a CPA firm who made most fees from bookkeeping services at Hi-S-I. Review of the books was done by supervisors at S-II and the work product delivered to the client by a manager at S-III. Between 1986 and 1990, computer accounting systems emerged inside of our client companies and all of our bookkeeping services disappeared.

So, hierarchy is the framework, but the business model (the work) defines what sits inside the framework.

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