3 Strategies that Minimize Hierarchy and Maximize Speed and Agility

Think of organizations as human bodies, not hierarchical pyramids.

Bodies are agile. Pyramids house the dead.


Organizational leaders try to increase speed and agility by removing layers from pyramids. But removing layers – creating flat organizations – doesn’t transform rigid pyramids into agile bodies.

The solution to speed and agility is in the way we connect. 

Trying to ‘flatten’ an organization always fails unless connections are strengthened at the same time.

Organizations as bodies:

#1. Individual parts matter, only in connection to others.

A foot in a box is novel, but useless.

Disconnection makes you irrelevant.

#2. Isolation and disconnection are the ultimate offense.

Disrespect for connection offends the very nature of ‘organization as body.’ Arrogance is to believe you can succeed in isolation.

#3. Effective movement is a function of joints – connection. 

Flat organizations require strong connections or they flop about like a pile of fish. Connection enables and guides unified movement.

Mind the joints:

Joints hold bodies together and enable movement at the same time. Joints are both rigid and flexible.

Quality of connection determines effectiveness. A joint, the place where individual parts connect and flex, determines speed and agility.

Strength of connection dictates how far and high you reach. Hands, apart from arms and legs don’t reach very high.

Hard truths only matter when you’re connected. Why bother if you function in disconnection?

3 strategies that maximize connection:

#1. Respect the strength and contribution of individual body parts, including yourself.

#2 Get rigid about your commitment to communicate.

Connection suffocates apart from active communication.

  1. What channels of communication will you leverage?
  2. How frequently will you communicate?
  3. How will you evaluate communication?
  4. How will you improve communication?
  5. How will lack of communication be challenged and corrected?

#3. Commit to think of oneself as both separate and connected. Those who stand aloof hide behind pyramids.

How might leaders strengthen connections in order to increase speed and enhance agility?

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