Here’s a note I recently received from the president of a company we’ve been working with:

“I am looking for a book/information on organizational structures. However, there’s a twist. We are currently set up as most companies are, with a vertical (silo) model. I want to change this. Part of our vision is to be a ‘knowledge-based’ company. In order to accomplish this, information has to flow from the outside-in and from the inside-out. The more effective the transmission of information, the more connective the organization will become.

In order to do this, I feel that we need a circular ‘network’ model, rather than a vertical integration model. We want to be like a multi-dimensional, living organism (e.g. the human body) where information/knowledge is exchanged and flows unimpeded throughout the organization. Projects get done through a collaborative workplace and information is available centrally to everyone.

I’d appreciate your advice/recommendations.”

We have long believed that form follows function. In other words, first determine what the key goals/objectives, business models, and key processes are and then put a structure in place to support that. So “the right organization structure” is impossible to generalize in a book. You can find some of my work on systems and structure on our web site here.

We tend to work with Clients to shape a structure and support systems after work like process management has been completed. You can see our approach to process management at here (including key slides from the executive overview of this approach).

What’s your perspective/experience with this issue?