HomeLeadershipHierarchy or non-hierarchy?

Hierarchy or non-hierarchy?

  • 2 Min Read

I’ve constantly battled with the best operating model and subsequent organisational structure to adopt in order to meet the business needs. The question now for organisations is “does hierarchy still have a place within organisational structure?” 

Featured Image

Looking back, the concept of hierarchy came from Henry Ford who was famous for making cars faster than competitors.

A decade ago to more recently the thinking has been more around flatter hierarchies that allow communication to flow easily through the organisation and to remove layers of decision making. This is typically in large or mature organisations that want to make their scale more efficient and feel that the smaller spans with many layers react to business demands and communicate slowly. Unless you set up incubator or spin off models, moving entirely away from a form of hierarchy is very difficult.

However, for those organisations that are starting out or are able to completely transform their model, the question Is even more interesting “does hierarchy still have a place within organisational structure?”

A modern view on hierarchies

Modern day organisations need to be innovative and nimble to form teams quickly that are multi-skilled rather than traditional functional models. For example, the meteoric rise of technology organisations is largely due to their principles such as ‘self-forming teams’ and ‘devolved leadership but generally, they are flexible to get behind deliverables by not being rigid in their structures or functions. Smaller organisations are playing with a full heterarchy model, which can work if you need a number of people to play different roles but requires more structure as the business matures.

I would say, one size doesn’t fit all, and you should choose a model that considers; business needs, the evolving market, the need to communicate, innovate & deliver at speed. This will determine whether a traditional hierarchy, a flatter hierarchy or a complete heterarchy is the best option.

Was this article helpful?

Subscribe to get your daily business insights

Related Articles

What can dating teach us about management?

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we’re alerted again to the new dating trends (hello, ‘slow-dating’), terms (know your zombie-ing from your...

  • Laura Ashley-Timms
  • Feb 13, 2024

Enhancing C-Suite relationships in 2024

As the business landscape evolves, the role of HR leaders is becoming increasingly strategic. Today, HR professionals are not just responsible for...

  • HRD Connect
  • Jan 5, 2024

Why are we not developing the next generation of CHRO?

The past year has witnessed a remarkable transformation in the role of the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). As businesses increasingly rely on...

  • Dr Dieter Veldsman and Dr Marna van der Merwe
  • Dec 1, 2023

‘This I believe’: How to re-engage your workforce by building a values-driven culture

What does it mean to lead a company with a values-driven culture? First, ask yourself are you leading a team of missionaries, people who are working...

  • Paolo Gallo
  • Nov 30, 2023

Core values must be at the heart of global organization leadership: Here's how to identify yours

Values are fundamental for both people and organizations, as they provide a cultural and moral foundation. When there is a strongly held set of...

  • Dr. Mandeep Rai
  • Nov 29, 2023

The time for task allocation is over: What are the four principal challenges of the modern manager?

The role of a modern manager is unrecognizable from its former self. Whereas the focus was once primarily on task allocation, the contemporary...

  • Wayne Clarke
  • Nov 28, 2023

Alive, impactful, measurable: How to bring company culture into the boardroom

The welcome your new team gives you on your first day. Catching up with a former colleague at an alumni event and hearing how much has changed since...

  • Marissa Andrada
  • Nov 16, 2023

Empowering HR leadership in the era of lean organizations

In a rapidly evolving business landscape, lean principles have emerged as a transformative force. While designed to maximize efficiency and customer...

  • Liam Joyce
  • Nov 14, 2023


HRD Roundtable: Combating 'Quiet Quitting'…

08 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • May 12, 2023

HRD Network Roundtable: The Retention…

15 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • May 12, 2023

Manage change and drive value…

01 June 2023
  • E-Book
  • May 12, 2023
Sign up to our Newsletter