Replying to LO25688 --
I have found and heard a number of statements regarding what are said to
be the characteristics of a LO's organizational structure, which included
"flat" and "decentralized". This makes very little sense to me.
In general, what determines the structure of an organization will be its
function, product or geography. This structure may change depending on
contextual variables such as changes in technology, the environment in
which it operates as well as its goals and size. An organization is
designed to encourage information flow in both vertical and horizontal
"Flat" organizations are typically organizations that minimize reporting
relationships and usually will have a minimal number of organizational
levels. These organizations are normally small, very lean, quite focused
and can be team-based. For example, a small software company could be very
flat, with maybe two or three levels. The teams, the team leaders, and the
company leader. However, this type of structure does not have to be
decentralized, in that the company leader could still be making the
majority of the decisions.
When an organization's decision-making authority is dispersed out of the
top management level and/or its employees are empowered, (I don't believe
the two have to go hand in hand) the organization naturally becomes
"flatter". However, a decentralized organization does not necessarily
become "flat"! You may still have a number of rigorous reporting
relationships and still be decentralized, such as for a large
As such, I believe that any organization can be flat and/or be
decentralized, but that those structures have little to do with the
creation of a LO. I see no reason why a LO can't have a number of
reporting levels as well as have centralized decision-making, as long as
it does not restrict communication, dialogue and learning.
Peggy Stuart <email@example.com>
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