The org chart is a useful tool: it’s a visual way to represent the chain of command and in large, complex organizations it can be helpful. The bigger the company, the more it can help you navigate.
But most of the time, nobody ever looks at it the org chart. When it comes to their daily lives, the org chart is irrelevant.
It’s the same with flow charts and process maps: they’re helpful to define things; as thinking and planning tools; but far too often, people try to use them to communicate.
Communication is a task for which many charts and process maps are woefully unsuited.
People don’t like to think of their role in the organization as a name in a box, lost in rows and columns of identical boxes. They don’t like to think of their jobs as diamonds, boxes, lines and arrows.
People think of their roles as important links in a chain that delivers value to customers. They think of their jobs as interactions between people that help drive that value: teamwork, decisions, action, results.
Org charts and process maps can be clear if people invest the time to read them, but most of the time they don’t, because the very format the information takes is dehumanizing.
Next time you want to convey a process, or discuss people’s roles and accountabilities, think about visualizing what’s really important to them instead of drawing boxes and lines. Your people will appreciate it, you’ll see more “light bulbs” go on, and in the end you’ll see better results.
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