A Company Organization Chart You Can Believe In

As our company has grown, we've had to think about the way we can support a larger organizational structure without losing what it means to be us. This meant creating things like a Corporate Values Statement and even a company Org Chart. When first setting out on this task, I started with a traditional tree. We have people in management positions, so why not? For me, there are two big problems with this representation:

  1. It locks people into one place/department, with no indicator that barriers between departments need to be permeable.
  2. It literally puts managers in positions of superiority above their comrades.

The Role of a Manager

First, let me address the topic of managers. Traditionally the language surrounding management is fraught with inequality, with words like superior, subordinate & supervise being commonplace. The implication here, is that the manager does all of the thinking and without his or her leadership, the team would be unable to do anything. Nothing could be further from the truth at our company and I believe at most (if not all) companies. My take on the true goal of management is very simple: the job of a manager is to make the people that work with them successful.

Enter the Venn Diagram

While building our Org Chart in Illustrator, I stumbled across the option of a Venn Diagram. This solved both the major issues I had and had the added bonus of being a lot more fun to look at!

Venn Diagram Org Chart

Download the Illustrator source file (.ai)

As you can see, the Venn Diagram allows for the overlap of numerous departments (i.e. Information Architects live in 3), while representing our Directors as hubs, rather than masters on-high.

What did the Team Think?

This visual representation of the company was well received across all members of the team. Here's a quick tweet I saw go out:

When I think "organization chart", I think bureaucracy. @joaquinlippinco's new "organization venn diagram" is ingenious though.

What's Next?

There are a lot of people out there rethinking the traditional business hierarchy/structure. This video interview from Peter Merholz (@peterme) identifies at least one truly flat (and very successful organization) as well as some history on the source of the organizational structures that we deal with today:

I always say I'm a big fan of what works, so I'll be keeping my eye on successful examples of people exploring and playing with corporate structure.

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Comments

The need to be permeable ~

People are the greatest asset in any business and should be valued, commended, and appreciated as a contributing part of the whole. I wish business structures were modeled in this way and more top level management would buy in to the ideal "departments need to be permeable". People [employees] feel more valued and become more valuable when they see themselves as an agent for change and success of ideas, creation, and implementation that ultimately benefits a business environment, stakeholders, and clients. Just my .02 cents.

Liberating to see Venn as organization chart

We had a staff meeting and started consider a Venn diagram for our organizational chart. Finding yours was liberating from the doubt we experiences when first trying to render it. Thank you!

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