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Hidden Org Charts – Principles of CAD Management

This entry is part 12 of 17 in the series Principles of CAD Management [1]

In the last post I mentioned Fayol’s concept of allowing employees to talk to each other across organizational structures.

In today’s firms many can speak across lines of authority without troubles, but does that really unveil the entire picture?

Even if you talk across the org chart – are you uncovering everyone that needs to provide input?

There are many times when an impromptu team is working to solve a problem and they come up with a group decision and put it in place without checking with superiors.  This is what Fayol had in mind as he explained that in times where speed or emergency exist, fasts decisions are needed and checking with the chain of command will not work.

I have however stepped into several areas where not checking with the right person has caused concerns. When setting up an initiative related to modifying a workflow, I checked with all those that I knew were involved on the org chart.  I asked for input from all of the proper people.  I was closing in on presenting my findings and recommendations and was chatting with one of those that provided input when they asked “Did you check with Tom? (not his real name)”.

Tom?  Tom had no place on the org chart.  He was in another areas of the firm.  He had no official connection to the process I was looking at.  He would use the process, but did not control any portion of it.  But what I was unaware of was the Tom developed the process that was in use some 10 years prior.  Tom was the true “owner” of the process and no one was willing to change it unless Tom approved it.  So here I was, ready to launch and I had to start from scratch with Tom. (it worked out well)

In matrix organizations like many firms are today there are official org charts and then there are the unwritten lines of control and influence that really control things.  Most of the unwritten structures mimic the written ones, but sometimes they do not.  I had stepped into an unwritten org chart that included someone that was in charge 10 years ago.

CAD Managers need to be aware of these hidden org charts in firms and seek to ferret them out prior to making changes.  Sometimes it is the person you least expect that has the most influence on your efforts.

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