Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Are there organisational archetypes for high-tech firms?

Alex reminded me of this funny take on organisational charts emphasising the influence of the Owner/Founder/CEO in IT companies. Amazon appears as a classical top down hierarchy with no inter-communication among peers. In Google's case its two founders: Larry Page, Sergey Brin,  plus one (Eric Schmidt I presume) appear to be cloned throughout a tiered organisational with multiple lines of communication among all levels. Facebook is presented as a mesh with no layering and isolated local pockets of communication. Microsoft as a network of hierarchies with each subdivision at odds with all of the others. Oracle as a legal firm with a small engineering division attached to it and both divisions reporting directly to Larry Ellison the CEO. And Apple as a blob of individuals, each one under the direct supervision of the then CEO Steve Jobs, suggesting a minimum of delegation.

Consider relating the ideas behind these depictions to Steve Sawyer's social archetypes of software development teams... The sequential model of task/role separation seeks to address the challenge of control, the group model fulfils the desire for intercommunication where task/role separation is infeasible, and the network model resolves task/role specialisation by establishing responsibilities specific to the production being performed. We might consider the possibility too perhaps that each archetype is a remedy for the problems arising from over dependence on one of the others.