Progressive or Traditional Organizational Structures?

Progressive or Traditional Organizational Structures?

If you’ve missed this posting by Joost, “10 Progressive Organizational Structures Developed by Real Companies” I highly recommend it. It was a short 8-minute reading, yet it took me many 8 minutes to ponder. 

In this article, Joost outlined ten progressive organizational structures. Some are oldies that no longer exist, such as “Fractals,” and others we are still learning about, such as “Squads.” 

Many of these models focus on self-managing and self-governance. Autonomy appears to be the word used on many models. Many of these models existed and worked for some time, but eventually, the company reverted to the traditional model. 


 It wasn’t the size of the company. For example, AES employed the Honeycombs model while the company size was 30,000 employees. 

What were the pros and cons of running these progressive models?

Autonomy enables the teams to move fast and make appropriate decisions for the group; however, did it create competing interests or silos? How did the companies guide these autonomous units to move towards a common goal?

What also caught my attention is that the article was translated into Chinese and published by Harvard Business Review in China. I am extremely interested in learning how any progressive organizational structure might survive in culture and society highly values hierarchy. 

I don’t have the answer. However, I wonder if anyone is analyzing these models and summarizing the learnings.

Why do I want to highlight this article? Because I am thinking about a recent discussion among some of our design managers, thinking about the design team’s organizational structure and how DesignOps fits it. 

As Patrizia Bertini mentioned in her LinkedIn post,

” In #DesignOps we often refer to the Spotify model when we think about organising the #Design teams, or we consider a few other common organisational models.
Yet being mainstream does not make a model fit for YOUR team and organisation.”

What can we learn from these progressive models? Is it possible to adopt any progressive structure within a generally traditional organization?

Can design org be so different? Furthermore, SHOULD design org be so different?

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