The value of a “flat” org structure

i did not realize this was a thing i liked until i experienced both sides. 

i have been lucky to work at a few companies that intentionally promote a "flat" org. 

meaning, even though there are levels to your title and leadership, you can talk to anyone. you can see everyone's calendars, are you an AE and have a question for the CIO? just gchat them.

and you are not treated as an annoyance, but as a peer. 

this is super fucking. cool. 
and in my mind it really promotes collaboration, open conversation and room for real things to happen. 

the flip side: 

the company i just left was very proud of how "everyone flew in formation".

what that meant was everyone had their place, and needed to stick to it. 

so as an AE, if i wanted to talk to a CSM, i was instructed i needed to CC the VP of success in EVERY email, or chat. and include her in any meeting i set with her team. 

also, if senior leadership was involved in a deal, i could not talk to them nor did they want to hear from me. i had to go through my boss....cus you k ow I'm just a little AE how can i expect to communicate with C level execs who are also MD's??

anyway, I'd suggest ppl try to suss this out in interviews because it gets annoying quick. 

can anyone think of good questions to ask in the interview process to explore this? 

🗣 Interviewing
🏋️‍♀️ Leadership
sales engineer
A lot of the traditional and larger corporations still have a top down and silo’d structure, and it makes decision-making and collaboration slow and difficult. I wonder how big this company is they has a flat structure?

I would love an example of a billion dollar company that has made this work. Working at a smaller company certainly makes it easier.
flat structures force the company into greater transparency and require that challenges are dealt with quickly and collectively. It does require the right set of leaders as well, gotta check that ego quick to thrive in that style. It really is a win win but gets tough at a certain scale.
vice office chief
Amen to this: Flat orgs can be a false flag for collaboration when there is a true decision maker who just plays along because it's cool to give everyone a voice. Can lead to over collaboration and nothing ever happening.
Account Executive
I think there is a healthy medium somewhere in there. I think that as you progress your career, a flat organization could be incredibly frustrating as a VP of Sales who ends up consistently being contacted by SDR's. On the flip side, your other company sounds absolutely terrible because there can always be a need to collaborate cross-functionally in sales and they are severely limiting your ability to do that.
Head Of Sales
yes i agree. i think the key though is having the right ppl in place.

So if SDRs are going to the VP ALL the time? something is broken, their boss is clearly not doing something right. having a boss they can rely on doesnt mean the organization isnt "flat" in my mind.

its more around the view point of who you CAN talk to, not who you SHOULD talk too.
Notorious Answer
Account Executive
Interesting. I recently got an offer for a company that has a very flat org. AEs work with Co founder, who works with cxm etc.

I can't say I've had experience doing this, but it was refreshing to see what the process looks like
SDR Manager and Consultant
Personally I hated the flat structure. Nothing ever got done because every small decision had to be discussed at great length. It started off great, but just got old so fast
Head Of Sales
That’s fascinating that it worked like that. In my experience the flat org did not effect decision making. Just collaboration really
Sales Director
Separating process and work flow between employees = super important. (i.e. - I make a sale, loop product support in, they hand off to project management)

Encouraging employees to connect, learn, and toss ideas off eachother without guardrails = equally as important (i.e. understanding how their days are structured, what their interactions with customers look like, etc).

Both can be accomplished with autonomy and trust. I'm living it now at my current company and it's harmonious that I can call anyone on their cell or drop a teams message to connect at any time.
WR Officer
It's like that at bigger corporations 🤷‍♀️
Big Shot
Senior Sales Executive
Believe it's somehow too early to find out.
And believe that your old place was the good exception,as the current one basically as same as the other majority corps are doing is applying hierarchy all over the place!
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Flat Organization VS Hierarchy

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