I used to wonder why organisational charts were drawn with the executive roles at the top – instead of the other way around to show that the management layers support the operational ones to get work done. This support takes many forms.

  • Control – Watching out for bad things and preventing them
  • Assistance – Watching out for areas that are struggling and helping directly or arranging for help to be provided
  • Decisions – Ensuring that information is flowing to and from teams so that decisions can be made – at whatever level is best for the decision to be made

The management function can also be described as similar to being a conductor – making sure that work is flowing in and out of a team smoothly and the team has the right skills and capacity to do the work.

I have been wondering what it could be like if we did not have management as a function any more.

  • Everyone could be responsible for observing the system of work and making improvements whenever needed – in a continuous way.
  • People could find their own valuable work to do – and just get on with doing it – this includes helping others when they need assistance.

There is a lot of value to be gained from having different views of data and information available. We currently cover this by having management layers – I wonder what we would call this function if we did not have management any more?


4 thoughts on “Layers

  1. If you have not already come across this, the have a look at Stafford Beer’s work on the Viable System Model. It provides a model for all required functions in viable system, not based on roles but on the work that is required to fight entropy and remain viable.

  2. so the one problem i see is people doing what they want that might be valuable, but might overlap what someone else is doing, or is less valuable that what someone else is doing and not a great use of scarce resources. How does the individual know whether what they see as valuable really is worth doing and holds true value to the business ?

    • the issues Nene raise are addressed in different ways by system 5 (policy), system 2 (coordination), and system 3 (cohesion) in the Viable System Model. Core functions that must be in place for any organisation to function well. I think management is essential for all organisations – the question is probably more around how to design a well functioning management system.

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