The Benefits of a Flat Organizational Structure and How to Make the Change

Traditional hierarchical structures are not enough in most companies, which is why flat organization is becoming more and more popular in the business world. With a flat organizational structure focused on human-centered leadership, you can prioritize adaptability, empowerment, and open communication within your team. As a result, you will reap a number of benefits including increased innovation and revenue.

Our company is a flat organization, but don’t assume it’s one-dimensional. Like all companies with truly flat organizational structures, it is incredibly complex and constantly changing. These qualities are what make him nimble – although it may seem strange and unconventional to those unfamiliar with the concepts of operational flatness and human-centered leadership.

Luckily, we’re not the only company that has managed to run a flat business instead of a big one. Accenture’s 2019 findings revealed that approximately 8% of leaders had already adopted apartment-friendly mindsets, and more than four in five said they planned to do so by the end of this year.

What is the cause of this tendency to move away from traditional hierarchical configurations? When leaders understand and see the advantages of flat organizational arrangements over large ones, they are more open to considering flat structures. At the same time, they realize the value of human-centered leadership role models in an increasingly diverse and unstable world.

Benefits of human-centered leadership and flattening

Human-centered leadership doesn’t have to be difficult to implement. It is simply a desire to unleash the potential of every human in a company. For example, human experience leaders at work create safe spaces so that individuals can freely express their feelings, needs, goals, and challenges. At the same time, they tend to focus on achieving both individual and collective impact, growth and innovation.

It’s easy to see that the only way to succeed as a human-centered leader is to adopt something other than a lofty organizational arrangement. Big companies are just too siloed and slow. While the organizational style works well for establishing day-to-day tasks, it lacks the sparks needed to fuel agility, accountability, entrepreneurial thinking, and quick action.

This is where flat organization businesses excel. Because the flat organization prioritizes collaborative interaction and goal achievement over strict protocols, team members can adapt quickly. An employee doesn’t have to navigate bureaucratic bottlenecks to get approval to implement a new initiative. Instead, the employee feels empowered to make choices that advance the company’s overarching goals.

As we have seen, the end result of full flatness is a high degree of co-creation, trust and inclusion and an equally high amount of leanness through reduced operating costs. The aforementioned Accenture research supports our findings. Accenture found that a human-centric approach was correlated with an average revenue growth of 22% over three years.

How to Join the Ranks of Flat Organization Companies

When it comes to going flat and engaging in human-centered leadership, you can expect to take a holistic approach. Applying the following strategies will help your team move forward with more intuition and less friction:

  1. Align all activities with overall goals.
    When everyone in your company knows your North Star goal, they can head there. This ensures alignment. It also allows for decentralized decision-making, greater autonomy and increased accountability without fear of reprisal.
    If you haven’t defined your goal, now is the time to start. This way, you can build a human-centered organization where everything converges at the intersection of leadership, customer, and employee experience.
  2. Model of empathy and vulnerability.
    You can’t be a human-centered leader without the soft skills of being able to empathize and stay open. The more you show your “human” side to your colleagues, the more you will promote psychological safety and the more your employees will be ready to give the best of themselves.
    Start by listening to the people around you, from colleagues and customers to suppliers and other stakeholders. Aim for deeper dialogues that allow for different perspectives, biases, and circumstances. Also, emphasize the learning potential of chess through constructive feedback and constant reflection based on openness, not control.
  3. Invest in healthier and more balanced relationships.
    Strong hierarchies are useless in flat structures. To thrive, you need strong networks that encourage people to build on each other’s strengths. In other words, favor abundance over scarcity; you will have a real impact.
    Here’s an example of how we’re doing it in our company: we’ve moved from job descriptions to roles, such as “strategic scouts.” People can share roles, which creates execution guardrails. They can also find sparring partners to play an advisory role. No need for authority figures since everyone is allowed to react.
  4. Let innovation flourish.
    Employees and leaders who view challenges as fertile ground for ideas aren’t afraid of different perspectives or obstacles. On the contrary, they become meticulous when it comes to exploring out-of-the-box solutions.

    As part of your human-centered leadership strategy, encourage experimentation and validation of hypotheses. Help your team learn to identify needs, fail quickly, and move on. Let go of the need for permission; it will only hold you back.

Apartment organization companies are well positioned to stand out in today’s disruptive marketplace.

If your company culture isn’t two steps ahead of the capability curve, consider flattening your structure. You might be surprised at how beneficial it can be.


Written by Rhea Ong Yiu.
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Ida M. Morgan