Chain of Value

Chaos and order. The purpose of organizational hierarchy is to bring order in the pursuit of a defined goal. Often we misunderstand hierarchy, some define it as a chain of command. In a functional hierarchy, it is not a chain of command, it is a chain of value. That value being competence. Hierarchy is not a chain of power, it is a chain of authority.

Authority and power are quite different. It has been well established that a parent has the authority to tell a child to eat their broccoli, but it is the child who has the power to determine if broccoli will, in fact, be eaten.

In a functional organization, authority comes with accountability. A role with authority also assumes accountability. Only in a government oversight committee is authority assumed without accountability (It is a broken power chain, ultimately, the committee’s authority is also broken.)

In a functional hierarchy, the value chain is competence. Authority comes with accountability. Organizational structure is the way we define working relationships related to authority and accountability. A manager may be granted the role authority to make a specific decision, and simultaneously is granted the role accountability for that decision.

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