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Management: Organization Design

I recently watched a couple of talks and read a few books on management that I thought were amazing so I thought I’d share them. This is the first post of three.

The first is by Johnathan Nightingale of the Raw Signal Group entitled Organization Design at at Scale.

My notes from this talk:

  •  Scale doesn’t just exacerbate your organization and alignment problems.  Scale is your biggest organization and alignment problem.
  • When you take away explicit power structures, you just make explicit power structures, you just make them implicit.
  • It’s too difficult for everyone to talk to everyone in the company, Dunbar’s number.
  • When there is a lack of structure, shitty things happen
  • Structure can’t make people care

Rules for Management

  1. Everyone has a manager.
    1. You report to one manager only
    2. They talk to this manager on a regular basis
    3. A manager is a trained and distinct role from individual contributor
    4. They are held accountable for the growth and success of their team
  2. Reasonable expectation of load.
    1. If you have two to four people report to you, you might have some time to do individual contributor work
    2. Eight is a fully loaded manager. With 10 direct reports, you need to split up the team and add a new manager
    3. For directors and VPs, 4-6 people is usually the limit of people that can report to you since in these roles you tend to accumulate problems that are reported up the chain
  3. Functional as long as you can
    1. You can find these people to hire in the market – i.e. VP Engineering, VP Marketing exist. It’s more difficult to hire for a matrix role.
    2. With a functional approach, you also get mentorship for your team because leaders in these fields have experience at the working level in these functions
    3. Feature teams are for organizing work, not reporting structure.  There is a risk of under/over resourcing
  4. Explicit ownership
    1. Tell people they what they are responsible for.
    2. Apple DRI format – Directly Responsible Individual
  5. Invest in leadership development
    1. Can’t fix a lack of strategic sense in a business with an org chart
    2. Effective leaders can spot misalignment and correct it. They know what to expect from peers
    3. You will need coaching
    4. If leadership coaching feels too expensive you’re undervalued the opportunity and executive costs you’re already paying.
  6. It’s never to late to invest in leadership development
    1. People don’t look at the opportunity costs (of ineffective leadership)

Melissa Nightingale and Johnathan Nightingale, the co-founders of The Raw Signal Group also have a new book out about management.  I really like this book because it is 1) it covers some difficult topics in a story based format which is really engaging 2) it has Canadian content (I think this is the first management book I read where the authors reside in Canada 3) It is funny and thought provoking. I recommend picking up a copy and my cat agrees.

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2 comments on “Management: Organization Design

  1. Pingback: Management: Developing Diverse Teams – Built to Run

  2. Pingback: Management books in review – Built to Run

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