Using Flowcharts to Evaluate Aspects of Organizational Structures

Every company has two organizational structures: The formal one is written on the charts; the other is the everyday relationship of the men and women in the organization.”  – Harold S. Geenen

The troika of growth, expansion, and diversification remains a set of emblematic processes that creates milestones in the journeys etched by modern organizations. These processes signify increasing levels of complexity and connectivity inside an organization, higher levels of organizational ability to service an evolving range of demands from clients, as also the need to devise and implement organizational structures that help stewards harness the potential resident in the sinews of an organization. Typically, organizational structures find definition as “visual diagrams of a company that describe what employees do, whom they report to, and how decisions are made across the business. These structures can use functions, markets, products, geographies, or processes as their guide, and cater to businesses of specific sizes and industries.” In this context, the flexible expanses afforded by the modern flowchart remain instrumental in outlining a variety of structures. Such illustrations can empower modern businesses to explore and implement a variety of connections among the elements listed above.

A formal representation of organizational structures outlines the standards and practices that impact every decision undertaken within an organization. Such a structure promotes bureaucracy and remains focused on command and control modules that govern the actions of the organization. It also delineates the nature of duties and responsibilities entrusted to different players within the matrix. However, recent research indicates such organizational structures typically stifle the scope for innovation, encourage slow responses to developments in the external environment, prize legacy practices to the detriment of new ways of thought, and reduce the scope for collaboration among organizational players. A flowchart can empower business strategists to survey and understand these dynamics, while evaluating the best options to fuel growth inside an organization. The illustration accomplishes such objectives by positioning the various elements inside a visual plane and expanding the scope of subsequent analysis.

Horizontal and vertical reporting mechanisms represent the defining feature of matrix-based organizational structures. Multiple lines of connection can operate inside such a structure, and signify different levels of reporting inside an organization. For instance, business associates may report to their immediate supervisors via vertical connections; at the same time, they may collaborate with peers and colleagues via horizontal lines. In essence, such organizational structures represent a measure of vitality that promotes development activities across departments, while preserving traditional supervisory and command structures. A flowchart remains an effective mode of outlining such an organizational matrix. The high levels of visibility afforded by such a paradigm empowers planners to effect swift changes in response to a variety of factors such as changes in client servicing mechanisms and wider trends in the external environment.

A variety of factors such as regulations enforced by governments, organizational culture, agreements with labor unions, business ethics and systems, etc. guide and impinge on the evolution of modern organizational structures. In line with this, some organizational thinkers have proposed the idea of the scalable organization. A certain edition of such thought envisions a common line of control that guides the activities of different sections within an organization; however, each section remains at liberty to pursue best practices that elevate business outcomes. In addition, section leaders can appoint talent independently, allocate manpower to different groups within the section, and bear appropriate responsibility for the generation of revenues and profit. We note the flowchart can easily help etch the outlines of such a flexible organization that encases the scope for internal mobility; the illustration also empowers designers to expand or contract the organization while spotlighting certain benefits that attend the core idea.

Organizational structures based on product lines have emerged as a preferred mode of conducting business in certain industries. A flowchart, when deployed correctly, can envisage an appropriate visual image that allows business planners to spotlight the benefits. An enterprise that deals in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), for instance, could adopt such a technique as part of efforts to boost organizational performance. Per this structure, the five best-performing product lines gain a dedicated chief executive officer followed by a vertical hierarchy of skilled staff persons. The emerging picture delineates clear lines of authority, accountability, and establishes connections that reach the apex level of the entire organization. Some commentators note this structure helps drive performance across the organization, while reinforcing the principles of good governance across all levels. The outcomes could include healthy competition among various product lines and an institutional culture that encourages innovative trade practices.

Agile networks, when adopted as a de-facto standard in organizational structures, propel the creation of decentralized organizations. This technique finds endorsement among organizational thinkers that prize agility at every level of the modern organization. When depicted inside a flowchart, this school of thought presents an expansive image populated by nodes, stages, sub-stages, and connections that appear in a random pattern. However, certain command structures endure inside the image to ensure a competitive performance linked to industry benchmarks. We note a total absence of centralized control that typifies the traditional organization. Such absence allows the agile organization to react with remarkable speed to various stimuli that describe a business environment, as also to frame a scalable, coherent response to changes in business practices and competitive landscapes. In addition, agile structures empower local stewards to focus collective effort in pursuit of emerging business imperatives.

Team-based organizational structures represent an outcome of recent international developments such as economic globalization. Such structures can span nations, regions, and continents in pursuit of profit and commercial performance. For instance, automotive manufacturers could agglomerate design teams, testing and production teams, manufacturing units, and marketing groups inside “organizational structures” spread across various geographies. Such a stance may allow the parent organization to gain distinct cost benefits, control business expenses, and consistently deliver high-quality automotive products to all clients. Sections of a flowchart can help planners design, evaluate, and implement such structures, thereby creating landmark instances of adapting the modern organization to the varied nuances of contemporary commerce. In addition, the flowchart-borne structure allows sponsor enterprises to discover and defeat locations of resource waste, thereby adding to business bottom lines.

Modern organizations including commercial outfits and business enterprises can register significant gains when they revise and refine their existing organizational structures. Stalwart inputs such as original thought, expert guidance, and business experience – when expertly melded – could spark the creation of outstanding instances of enlightened organizational structures (and sub-structures thereof). Such a structure could amplify leadership messages, drive incidents of client delight, enhance the collective skillsets of business associates, and accelerate the pace of performance for every organizational member.

In addition, intelligent and perceptive business leaders could steer minor course corrections inside these structures in a bid to boost business performance, win the approval of stakeholders, and reinforce the integrity of an organization. Such a stance creates the grounds for long-term success, incubates latent talent inside an organization, and imparts speed and velocity to plans and actions. Flowcharts remain central to such exercises – the vitality, expanses of space, and the sheer scope of multiple connections contained therein empower business leaders to examine every aspect of the modern organization, survey the metrics, build greater resonance with client objectives, and tweak structures as appropriate. In doing so, the flowchart emerges as a modern blueprint for success in the domain of modern commerce.

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