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HRHeadStart #33: Designing Hierarchies; Zone of Genius; Making Choices
The Talent Agenda
There will hardly be a time when you hear the words “organizational hierarchy” in a positive light. Often used as a proxy for rigid, the term hierarchy is used to suggest an organization where information and decisions flow only through a chain of command. An organization where frontline innovation is stifled and where silos are inevitable. An organization where leaders might manage multi-million dollar budgets, but must get sign-offs on small investments. An organization where status is dependent on factors like titles, pay and number of people managed.
This needs to be addressed, but hierarchy alone is not the culprit. Hierarchy can be useful in many contexts, particularly for differentiating thought and focus. In a well-designed hierarchy, each leader simply does not do a bigger version of the work of the leader below, but instead each layer has a varying levels of problem complexity, time horizons and time allocation.
A well-designed vertical organization with distinct roles can empower individuals by creating external accountability (expectations that a role must deliver) and motivate internal responsibilities (discretionary effort).
There are things at work which make the best use of your time and talent. These are things that draw your unique talents, create meaningful work experiences for you and set you up on the path to growth and happiness. But how do you get there? The framework below might help:
So, as you progress in your career, ask yourself: In what areas do I need to build competence today? What are areas that can be ditched (because they don't add enough value) or delegated (because someone else is better suited)? What do I enjoy most in the areas I excel in? What work do I do that doesn't feel like work?
A Productive Workout
A workout is a great way to create mindspace for processing and learning new ideas. And it primes you for creative thinking. For your next walk, run or workout session, check out this broad-ranging interview with Brian Chesky (CEO, Airbnb), covering themes like navigating the business through the pandemic, reorganization, future of travel, future of work etc. Grab the links - Spotify, Apple Podcasts.
The choice you make today creates your circumstances for tomorrow.