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Old 09-25-2014, 10:42 AM   #71
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,318
Re: Third Wave Aikido

Google, as much a child of the Internet as any company on earth, fired all their project managers once. They weren't programmers, they weren't executives, all they were doing was adding layers between the people doing the work and the people making the decisions.

It was a disaster. Directors ended up with a hundred direct reports, and so none of the programmers could get guidance from decision makers when they needed it.

Ultimately they hired them all back. Google now has something like five layers between the programmers and the CEO. Some of this is a function of size: with 52,000 employees, you really do need concrete assignments of responsibilities.

Hierarchical structures are very good in some situations, disastrous in others. Same with decentralized networks. Decide what you want to accomplish, then think about the organizational structure best suited to achieving it.

I also think that most real-world organizations are hybrids, with both network and hierarchical components. The military has clear chains of command, but there are plenty of networks, too: people who were in the Academy together, people who served at a particular post together, people with particular kinds of expertise. The Web is a network, but most of its physical infrastructure is built and maintained by hierarchical organizations. The standards committees that manage the software infrastructure are largely comprised of hierarchical organizations. And so on.

Similarly in the martial arts world. The various organizations have clear "people in charge," granting ranks, approving dojos for membership, establishing grading requirements. But the best teachers are intellectually curious. Any attempt to prevent them from forming networks around "research" topics that interest them is doomed to failure.

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