Organizational DesignPodcasts

Hierarchy in Organizations

A podcast with the ‘Gruppendynamik’ team in Berlin, Germany

There seems to be a tendency in organizations to remove hierarchy and to implement self-organizing teams. Unfortunately, the latter will be in limbo as long as residues of the old static hierarchy exist.

Hierarchy and authority in organizations are very relevant topics in group dynamics and recurring themes. Because of that, it might be interesting to see the real-world impact if those concepts unfold outside of the protected space of educational/training settings. At the same time, education seems to be the basis to put organizations out of their misery in terms of fear and anxiety when it comes to reducing static hierarchy. 

Constantin von Mengersen (and his amazing dog, participating as a guest at some times), one of our directors, and a highly experienced professional, shares his thoughts about the clash of cultures between subject matter experts who are getting their job well done and authorities holding formal power.

This co-existence leads to anxiety and fear in organizations: formal authorities fear that they are made redundant by subject matter experts (SME) and they fear formal authorities to (ab)use their formal power, limiting the efficiency of getting things done “the new way”.

Formal authority mutes and overwrites the competence authority of SMEs – or simply ignores it – especially when it comes to decisions in difficult times, where the organization is at risk.

We try to untangle the difference between managers (who are primarily incompetent when it comes to the job of a manager, contrary to a subject matter expert), leaders, people with “Weisungsbefugnis” (who can tell you what to do, who to give you the task environment) and subject matter experts which are different and connected in many ways.

Hierarchy podcast

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