Future-Proofing Your Organisational Structure Beyond 2019

Emilien Coquard
5 min readAug 21, 2019

For longer than anyone can remember, the organisational structure of businesses has been strictly hierarchical: layers of close-watching management and seniority determined by company tenure.

This type of structure — which we’ll call the “traditional hierarchy” — is so commonplace that most of us don’t consider other options. After all, everyone needs a manager…right?

When it comes to building modern tech companies, especially when integrating with offshore employees, there might be a better way.

The traditional top-down team hierarchy

An article from Process.st captured the attributes of a traditional hierarchy, from the employee’s perspective. They said that employees:

  • Generally, work in departments or teams with fixed scope and responsibilities.
  • Have a direct line manager and set tasks to complete.
  • Have clear job titles and predetermined wages for that title.
  • Are paid enough to buy products and participate meaningfully in the economy.
  • Are subject to a bureaucratic management hierarchy which is responsible for decisions.
  • Work in an office with their colleagues.

This setup is quite familiar to all of us. Yet for emerging tech companies looking to scale up, optimise resources, and drive innovation within their field, most of these practices have been thrown out the window.

So what’s wrong with the traditional top-down structure?

The main issues with the traditional hierarchy are stagnation and employee engagement. Layers of bureaucracy and constant oversight (with many “managers” promoted directly from purely technical roles) force any changes to progress at a limp.

At the same time, employees’ tasks are scheduled days or weeks in advance; every billable minute accounted for, every objective listed.

These layers of management were designed to keep things moving along nicely along a constant track. And they’ll still do that. But modern tech companies are about iteration, experimentation, fresh ideas — and these…