In last week’s blog post we examined three of the five popular organizational structures proposed by Jacob Morgan, one of my favorite business writers on Forbes, and learned more about how to manage the personnel within a company. This week we are going to finish up our research in this area by learning about the last two organizational structures Morgan advocates. Also, since this is the last blog post of this year’s independent study, I am going to take y’all all the way to the very beginning of my project and share with you what I have learned, not only business-wise but also as a person from such a memorable experience. So without further ado, let’s get right into it!
Last week we discussed about the pros and cons of three major business structures: the traditional hierarchy, in which there is one ultimate controller of the whole business; the flatter organizations, in which there are less layers of power but more communications between employers and employees; and the flat organizations, in which all the members are equally treated. This week we are going to learn about the other two: the “flatarchies” and the “holacratic organizations”.
“Flatarchies” is just like its name and lies right there between hierarchies and flat organizations. They have ad-hoc teams that cooperate to run a business in a relatively hierarchical way. According to Morgan, such a model is “very dynamic in nature and can be thought of a bit more like an amoeba without a constant structure.”
The company that fits such a model often has an internal incubator or an innovative program, because that would help create a company within an existing structure that allows employees to suggest and run with their own new ideas. Separate teams can co-exist in the company with a same goal that emphasizes the company’s growth as a whole. One disadvantage of this model is that it is more complicated than other models and requires a strong management team to take good care of. However, the success of Google and Adobe under such a system proves the validity of such a model, and I highly suggest established companies to try such a model because it facilitates innovation within the business itself.
The last model we are going to examine is the “holacratic organizations”. These organizations follows “holacracy,” a recently promoted model that creates a “boss-less” working environment for employees where different departments and teams work independently to improve a company. “Holacratic organizations” are different from flat organizations because there are still hierarchies within each department and team, but they are also similar because freedom of thoughts is encouraged.
According to Morgan, holacracy is a little unnecessary for most companies because it is too much of a radical change for most companies that want to promote independence – “flatter organizations” can be a easier way for companies to achieve similar goals. “It’s sort of like trying to improve the way your car runs by taking out the entire engine and rebuilding it instead of working on some of the core areas that might really drive performance.” However, holacracy is indeed effective in creating a harmonious working environment within the company, and since employees only work in the department they are familiar with and good at, they can be less stressed when it comes to work. Zappo’s success in applying such a model exemplifies such a model. Even though currently there are not many companies using such a structure, I agree with Morgan that more and more companies will apply such a method as they become more innovative and courageous.
That wraps up the last part of this year’s independent research – a study of personnel management. As I mentioned in the former two blog posts, it is extremely for a business leader to have a team that is not only capable but also willing to work for you. Businesses can be successful under different organizational structures; however, they cannot succeeed if the founders don’t have the support from the employees. A company is just like a team; when the chemistry within the company is solid, the company can achieve its maximum potential sooner or later.
So now let’s take a tour back to where we started and see what we have come through over the course of this year. Just as planned, my independent study generally falls into two sub-categories: a study of entrepreneurship, and a research of the sneaker industry. During my exploration of how to start a business successfully, I have learned about various topics including innovation, mission statement, identification of the target market, marketing and personnel management. Although this sounds like a lot of different topics, many of them are actually interconnected. For example, the identification of the target market is directly related with a company’s marketing strategies. While I have learned a lot about how to start a business and make it successful, I also realize that there are still many topics that I have not yet explored. For example, I have not studied about financial projections, but finance is actually a very crucial part of a business because in order for a business to survive in such a competitive world it has to make profits. Therefore I still have plenty of topics to work on before I can actually confidently call myself a ready entrepreneur, but that does not matter, because I will certainly keep working. And I want to inspire all of you with my belief that any kid with an entrepreneurship dream can successfully become who he/she wants to be as long as he has a heart and is willing to strive for the dream.
In the sneaker world I have become more professional. Even though the sneaker industry experienced several ups and downs over the course of last winter, Maxwell and I dealt with different situations with composure and kept our business going. I have learned more about not only specific pairs of sneakers but also the sneaker market in general, as I become more familiar with the reasons why this market has plenty of potential and can be profitable. I also had great experiences talking with my fellow sneaker business runners. I have felt welcomed in the “sneakerhead” community, and I will certainly keep my passion in college. By the way I have added more than ten pairs of sneakers into my collection last year, and I have fully enjoyed myself as a sneaker collector as well.
However, what impresses me the most when I look back into my journey this year is how much I have grown as a person. I have learned more about social entrepreneurship and how I can use business as a tool to make the society we live in better. Through learning about the movement “Life > Shoes” I realize how I can use my passion for sneakers as an platform for advocating for a healthier lifestyle. Besides that, I also started to gradually understand myself as an individual in this massive world. I learned about my own addiction to consumerism and tried to pull myself out from the bad habits I had before. Such experiences are not always cheering and positive; however, I enjoy the process of transforming myself into a better person. That’s something that I want to achieve from this year’s independent study, and I am so glad that I have learned more about myself.
Last but not least, I want to thank all of you. You have been there for me since the very start, and I could not get to what I am at right now without your help. Here I want to give special thanks to Teacher Margaret, Coach Seth Berger, Teacher Jay Coen-Gilbert, and many others who have directly helped me with my project. It has been a great year, but this is only the start. Even though this is the last blog post, I still want to tell all of you: stay tuned! Peace out.