RETHINKING HIERARCHY

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Another issue to give thought to when discussing teams and collective thinking in the workplace, is the issue of hierarchy. Many narratives about the future of work, challenge the established hierarchical structure, a trend that has already become apparent, especially in the new and upcoming start-up culture. We have already seen experiments in companies that try out flat structures, like Zappos and W.L. Gore, with various and controversial results. However, leadership still holds a significant role in the organisation of teams and is considered essential for the successful management of companies. So, what kind of transformations is the workplace going through in terms of its structure?

1 – In this podcast, Stanford organizational psychologist Bob Sutton speaks with his colleague Melissa Valentine, an assistant professor of management science and engineering who studies the way we work nowadays and they have some news for us: We still like working with others, and a little hierarchy can help us all stay sane.

2 – Egalitarian teams perform better than hierarchical ones. When everyone has a say, the team has a benefit.

3 – Binary hierarchical positions prevail in the way we imagine the future of work. This paper explores these and then, offers a way forward beyond hierarchies about imagining and speculating on the evolution of our worklife.

4 – A bad boss is the worst thing at work. We can as well admit that a bad job with a good boss is better than a good job with a bad boss. Have you met any of these four types of horrible bosses?

5 – Office layout echoes the organisational structure of the company. What impact does a more open-plan working environment have on authority and leadership, and how does a social-democratic model of community suit a capitalist set-up like a big corporate?

6  – This is how the bossless office looks like. The headquarters of Menlo Innovations, have no cubicles, few walls and no offices.

7 – However, new changes bring about new problems. Wired argues against the tyranny of flat structures and how it actually can conceal power relations which are nevertheless maintained.

What do you think? Are we looking towards a more democratic workplace in the future? Are ways that the design could moderate hierarchies? Is holacracy the future? Give it some thought, we have a bit more than a month for our competition deadline.

Till next time –

Cheers!
Mariza