"Flat" organisation - origin? LO21802

John Gunkler (jgunkler@sprintmail.com)
Tue, 1 Jun 1999 11:55:34 -0500

Replying to LO21773 --

No, Wendy, we can't credit Hammer with the term "flat organization." I'm
not sure we should credit anyone with it.

You see, I heard it used at least 20 years ago. It referred simply to the
traditional organizational chart -- the infamous pyramid structure with
"upper management" on top and "workers" on the bottom. The more layers of
management there were in the middle, the taller (and more "pointed"
looking) was the pyramid; the fewer layers of management, the flatter it

I remember sitting on an airplane in the late 1970's, reading an in-flight
magazine, and laughing out loud at an article written about changes at
General Motors-Canada. GM spokesmen were bragging about how they had just
eliminated every other layer of middle management in the company! ... and
were now "down" to "only" 18 layers!! (They congratulated themselves that
they had created a "flat" organization.)


"John Gunkler" <jgunkler@sprintmail.com>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <rkarash@karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>