Benefits for Flat Organizations

3 Challenges of Horizontal Organization Structures

Companies are quickly gravitating towards the horizontal organizational model. They are trying to create these “flat” companies that foster an entrepreneurial spirit where the hourly intern can walk into the CEO’s office and just chat. While there are endless benefits to a horizontal organization, there are huge land mines that need to be flagged to avoid potential disaster.

Here are three common obstacles that occur with a horizontal leadership style. Acknowledging these potential roadblocks can help you reap all the benefits of your horizontal organization.

  1. The Fall Guy: At the end of the day, someone needs to be responsible for and own every project. A huge downfall of many flat companies is the fact that no one takes responsibility, so when something fails, there is no path to correct it and improve.
  2. Closed Door Policy: Many firms have started to have an “Open Door Policy” where individuals can just walk into any execs office and talk so long as their door is open. Though an open door policy is great for a healthy organization, it can also be catastrophic. It is important that execs close their doors during a set time everyday so they can accomplish what they need to accomplish. The possibility of countless interruptions in a given work day can derail anyone’s train of thought and be detrimental to the completion of every day tasks that get put on the back burner for the impromptu meetings resulting from open doors.
  3. A Definitive Leader: With everyone on the same playing field in a horizontal organization, there is the potential for a lot of stepping on toes. One person tries to launch an initiative and finds out someone started it two weeks ago. Both people get offended. Each project or initiative should have a clear leader and commander. This will help streamline meetings, increase accountability and make sure that tasks are accomplished in a uniform manner and are done only once instead of having multiple people working on the same thing trying to climb all over each other.

The benefits of a flat organization are great. With the right direction and a clear understanding of potential land mines, companies with a horizontal org chart will be extremely successful and foster countless innovative initiatives at all levels.