A Better Way to Visualize Your Organization - Trees instead of Squids

By Jon Saints - 18 Apr 2021

Companies often represent their organization structure in a hierarchical org chart. These charts start at the top with the President/CEO. From there, they sprawl down and out through the ranks to those doers and newbies at the “bottom” of the org. Charts like this look like a squid.

hierarchical org chart with ceo at the top and reports shown below

I am not a fan of drawing things this way.

An alternative to the hierarchical org chart is the org tree. The org tree flips the org chart upside down. It starts with the President/CEO at the bottom, like the trunk of a tree. From there branches are formed which support smaller and smaller branches. Finally, the leaves represent those at the “top” - the experienced doers and up-and-coming newbies of the organization.

org tree with ceo at the bottom and reports shown above

The tree view tells a powerful organizational story which I like much more:

  • Those at the bottom of this org carry weight. They support. They empower. They are experienced anchors in times of change. Their goal is to ensure the thriving of the people in their branch.
  • The doers and newbies at the top of the org are valued. They are vital. They are the most supported and empowered to do the work that is critical to the org’s success.
  • We all matter. We all depend on each other. We co-exist to serve our customer.
  • Power and influence come from doing your part really well and supporting more and more people with your work

Which organization would you want to be a part of? Which leader’s vision would you want to follow?

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