On organizational structures

The company that I work for is going through an amazing growth period right now.  As a result, quite a few things change, re-shape, appear and disappear.  Starting to lose the grasp in some areas, I decided to read more about organizational structures.  Before reading, I thought about it for a bit.  I tried to summarize everything that I know about the subject – both from personal experience and from the long forgotten textbook paragraphs.  Once I started reading, I realized how little I actually know about this stuff.

It’s actually a fun little exercise.  Pause for a minute and try to list as many different organizational structures that you can think about.  Think.  Think.  Think.  List.  Hierarchical is the first one on the list.  Right?  It was for me.  Then I spent some time thinking about all possible modifications to a hierarchy.  And than my mind went empty.

That was too early to give up.   Suddenly I remembered Google and that I read in quite a few places that they actually use a matrix organization.  I knew that I read about it before, but couldn’t remember what it was and how it worked.  Just in case, I added matrix organizational structure as number two on my list.

At that point, all clear thoughts stopped.  As the last resort I remembered a well-known book “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” that I read a few years ago (the book is free and I strongly recommend you read it, especially if you have anything to do with Open Source Software).  The cathedral is something very similar to a hierarchy that I thought of first.  But the bazaar seemed like something that I didn’t have on my list.  Even though the “organizational” part of this structure is questionable.  I added it anyway.  So my list got to three items.

And then I gave up.  It was too much of an effort for too late of an evening.  How many did you get?  Did you get the same ones or different?  Are you a business administration major?  And if you are, what the heck are doing on this blog?  Oh, no, you are welcome to stay – I am just surprised that you are here.

Anyway.  It’s time to educate ourselves on this fascinating subject.  And when it comes to quick education, Wikipedia is at the top of my list.  Together with Google.  There is a page on Organization, which provides a useful overview, with few more structures that I haven’t thought about.   Of course I knew about committees and juries.  It just didn’t come to my mind.  And once I read about ecologies, I understood what they are and even remembered a few examples.  So, I sort of knew about them too.  Then, for even more details and examples I read the Wikipedia page, which is dedicated to the subject of Organizational Structures.  That’s a bit difficult to process if you are sleepy, late in the day.

While I’ve definitely learned something today, the biggest benefit of the above Wikipedia pages is that they will provide me with me enough confidence to argue with my friends for hours upon hours over pints and pints of beer.  Hopefully, that was as useful for you too.

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