150 spots available: Become a member before 30 June and get 20% discount.

More info.

Blow Up The Traditional Organization Chart

Pim de Morree
Written by Pim de Morree March 02, 2022

The traditional organization chart is as outdated as the dial-up modem. Or maybe a fax machine. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. It's too rigid, reinforces hierarchy, and doesn't support the complexities of today's work environment. Sadly, 99.9% of companies still use it today. But here's some good news: they no longer need to.

4345 1140x0

Living in the past

Joost wrote earlier about the shocking resemblance between organization charts today and those from more than a century ago:

"The organization chart depicted below originates from IBM and was drawn up in 1917. That's exactly a century ago! While major things have changed in the world since then, this antiquated organization chart is identical to most of the organizations we work in today. It symbolizes the outdated command-and-control model that was designed more than a century ago. It was designed for a world that no longer exists; a stable, slow-moving, predictable world."

4307 1140x0

The traditional organization chart is rigid, unrealistic and nothing more than an overview of the good old fashioned hierarchy—a pyramid composed of puffed-up job titles and empty job descriptions.

Companies that still use the traditional organization chart do so mostly because they believe there's no better alternative.

Luckily, that's not true at all.

Reinventing the org chart

Organizations these days—especially more progressive ones—are in dire need of a different solution. A solution that more accurately describes the vastly complex network of roles and responsibilities. A solution that allows one to visualize the dynamic, ever-changing nature of a group of people working together.

Guess what? These solutions are already here.

Several tools have actually popped up in recent years. Glassfrog is well-known because it's the 'default' option for organizations adopting Holacracy as an organizational model. Less Holacracy-centered alternatives to Glassfrog are Holaspirit and Maptio.

Here at Corporate Rebels, we've started using another option called Peerdom. It provides similar functionalities as the ones mentioned above but is less dogmatic about a specific approach (and, as you know, we are not fans of dogma). You can easily tweak the tool to fit your unique way of working, as it supports whatever organizational model you may have.

Peerdom, like many of the other tools, does much more than simply visualize your organization chart in a better way. By activating apps in the App Store you open up a world of possibilities.

Allow us to explain. Here's what it does for us.

1. Clarifying roles & responsibilities

Since we're a self-managed team, it's important to create transparency around who's responsible for what. We split our work up into roles. People pick up roles and take full responsibility for the performance of that role. And because our work (as almost everyone else's) is dynamic, the roles regularly change or move from one person to another.

Peerdom helps us to create a dynamic map of who's responsible for which area of our company. In the screenshot below, you'll see what it looks like on the most generic level (which includes three companies: Corporate Rebels, Corporate Rebels Foundation, and Krisos, our latest venture).

4308 1140x0

The white circles represent roles, the grey circles represent teams, and the colored circles represent companies. If you zoom in to 'Corporate Rebels', this is what you'll see:

4309 1140x0

It's a great way to follow your interests by picking up the roles you'd like to fulfill. For example, some of my roles are:

  • Blogger
  • Strategy lead
  • Book publisher
  • Academy upgrader
  • Way of working lead

If any of those roles are underperforming (which is very easy to spot), I'm responsible for that. The team will hold me accountable.

2. Tracking strategic goals

Peerdom also helps us to keep track of our strategic goals. Every six months we set our strategic goals. We'll enter them into Peerdom and attach them to the roles that are responsible for it. This helps us to easily track our progress.

Below, you'll see what it looks like.

4310 1140x0

3. Giving and receiving feedback

Another feature that we use is the option of giving and receiving feedback. You can invite team members to give you feedback on specific roles. This allows everyone in the team to get a sense of how they're performing in their various roles (plus, how their team members are doing).

Feeling inspired? Discover 8 radical lessons from 150+ pioneering organizations to spark change in your workplace.

Join us to explore these transformative insights and unlock the first chapter of our book, on the house! GET YOUR FREE CHAPTER NOW!

The traditional organization chart is nothing more than a pyramid made up of puffed-up job titles and empty job descriptions.
Click to tweet

Supporting self-management

As we take on more and more activities as a team, it's super helpful to create transparency around who's responsible for what, how everyone's progressing, and what we can improve. Plus, it allows everyone to easily pick up (and ditch) roles. This helps all of us to continuously explore which combination of roles best fits our talents and skills.

For us, such a tool is a valuable addition to make self-management easier.

But let's be clear: it's not the tool itself that will make you work progressively. That's still entirely up to you. The tool is just there to support.

Anyway, the point is that such tools are a hell of a lot better than the status quo of useless traditional organization charts. So give them a shot!

If you want to learn more about less hierarchical organizational structures, check out our 6-week course in which you'll learn all about 5 of the world's most progressive companies. For more information click here.

Written by Pim de Morree
Pim de Morree
As co-founder of Corporate Rebels I focus on: researching, writing, speaking, and building our company.
Read more
May 19, 2024
Revolutionizing Work Culture: A Case Study on HR-ON's Progressive People Practices
Joost Minnaar Written by Joost Minnaar
Last month, we had the privilege of interviewing Ali E. Cevik and Nanna Maria Mørch from the Danish pioneering firm HR-ON for the members…
Read more about Revolutionizing Work Culture: A Case Study on HR-ON's Progressive People Practices
Mar 31, 2024
Creating a Culture of Ownership: Breaking Free from Hierarchy
Diederick Janse Written by Diederick Janse
The buzzword 'ownership' has been circulating in education and business circles for the past decade. Apparently, we want more of it, but…
Read more about Creating a Culture of Ownership: Breaking Free from Hierarchy
Feb 11, 2024
How a Turkish Self-Managing Company Solved Its Hiring Problem with a Dating Approach
Joost Minnaar Written by Joost Minnaar
Finding the right people for your self-managed company is hard. You need more than skills and qualifications. You need someone who fits…
Read more about How a Turkish Self-Managing Company Solved Its Hiring Problem with a Dating Approach
Feb 04, 2024
The Fascinating Story of America's Largest Employee-Owned Company
Joost Minnaar Written by Joost Minnaar
February 3, 1969, was a cold winter’s day in La Jolla, a village on the rugged California coast just north of San Diego. It was also a…
Read more about The Fascinating Story of America's Largest Employee-Owned Company
Jan 14, 2024
Unlocking Human Creativity at Work: Closing the Gap
Doug Kirkpatrick Written by Doug Kirkpatrick
Do people feel free to dream, improve, innovate, and be creative at work? Sadly, the answer appears to be not so much. Current state of…
Read more about Unlocking Human Creativity at Work: Closing the Gap
Dec 17, 2023
The Power of Coaching in Self-Managing Organizations
HappyHenry Written by HappyHenry
Employees in self-managing organizations obviously don't have managers, but that doesn't mean there isn't somebody there to support them.…
Read more about The Power of Coaching in Self-Managing Organizations
Read all articles

Download: Free Guide

Unlock our in-depth guide on trends, tools, and best practices from over 150 pioneering organizations.

Subscribe below and receive it directly in your inbox.

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.