In the last year I have had a few posts on Workday’s redesign of the organization structure in their HCM application. They have done a great job at giving us something new and more usable. In fact, we’ve been struggling for years over organization structures. They are hard to implement within existing HCM configuration limitations, and often the organization does not agree on the appropriate organization structure. Finance, HR, performance, ect… often use different organization hierachies. Perhaps all of this discussion is rather a moot point.
Most of us like looking at organization charts because it gives us a clear picture of how an organization does its work. But in reality, the org chart is almost completely useless in portraying that picture realistically. I’ve been writing a lot in the last year about collaboration and innovation networks, and if we really think about how work gets done, it is not in the rigid structures of the organization hierarchy. Rather, the connections that are not displayed in the org chart – connections existing within the white space between the boxes – is where all the work is happening. ((Rummler, Geary A.; Alan P. Brache (1995). Improving Performance: How to Manage the White Space in the Organization Chart. Jossey Bass Business and Management Series. Jossey-Bass.)) The best way to get to understand that white space? In my opinion it’s the collaboration network. The collaboration network attempts to depict the communications and connections between people regardless of the org chart. By examining these interactions, an organization can see who is doing the work, how much of the work burden they actually have, how much influence they have.
The org charts are nice to look at, but indeed, it is the collaboration network that really helps us understand the work happening within our organizations.