011 - How To Keep Your Business Flat Even When You Scale

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By Torben Anderson, Torben Anderson: Tech strategy, and CTO. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

It’s very common to see businesses scale to a certain point but then reach a plateau that can be very difficult to get out of. To avoid this happening in your business and to keep your momentum going, I believe that you need to keep your business flat.

What do I mean by this?

Simply put, I mean running the business with less hierarchy between staff and executives. It’s all about having large numbers of staff being managed by a small number of managers and the people in the chain of command from top to bottom being very efficient, both in terms of number and responsibility.

This flat, or horizontal, organisation structure can bring huge benefits.

Let’s look at some of them here…

  1. Ease of communication

I’m sure that many of you who’ve worked in the corporate world will be able to identify with the continuous rat race mentality and the need to fight your way up the career ladder. There’s often many complex layers of organizational hierarchy and a wealth of middle management.

When it comes to running our own businesses though, I personally find that people think differently and often want to implement a different structure. I believe that to organise and improve communications, you need a flatter structure in your business.

By giving staff more input into the overall vision of the company, you will thrive and scale more efficiently.

Create small, efficient and hard-working teams and train team leaders who can excel in pushing those teams to achieve excellent results.

  1. Communication lines are open and clear

When I say communication line I mean the verbal and written connection that exists between staff. The bigger a team gets, the more channels of communication there are to manage. If the lines of communication get overwhelming, communication and therefore productivity, can break down. By implementing a flatter structure, there’s less people involved and therefore the lines of communication are less likely to confuse, conflict and ultimately slow the business down.

How do we calculate lines of communication though? The simple formula to calculate the number of connections between your team members is:

N x (N-1)/2

N is the number of team members. For example, 10 people equals 45 connections and 30 people equals 435 channels of communication that we need to maintain.

This formula allows you to clearly see your channels of communication. If they’re very high, look at how they’re holding back the scalability of the business. Break large teams into smaller ones to keep your lines of communication to a manageable amount.

To improve communication on a day-to-day level, organise your teams together, whether that be physically in the same space, or virtually using software video communications such as Skype.

  1. Specialist skills can shine through

A flatter organisation structure allows team member’s skills to shine through because their talents are not hidden in complex layers of middle management.

Truly understand your team member’s abilities and aspirations and use this to move them around the business and build their career with your company. They will feel valued, appreciated and more inclined to stay and grow with you.

It’s really important to identify people’s talent and nurture those abilities in your business to scale successfully.

FIND OUT MORE

For more benefits of flat organisational structures click here.

23 episodes