Organization & Leadership Consulting

For most organizations, an “Org Chart” is just boxes on paper and is rarely dragged out of the files. It could, and should, be so much more.

The main purpose of an organizational chart is to define and describe the relationships of key positions throughout an organization. Having this as a visual depiction is immensely helpful as it enables the creation of a shared mental model of the organizational design of the business. The diagram offers a “in a glance” overview of the social structure of the organization.

A well-designed Organization Chart, however, should go beyond a pictorial description of the reporting relationships (see Instead, it should include a description of the flow of power within the organization. I suggest adding a written narrative to accompany your diagram. Doing so will power up your organizational structure. Begin by following these five steps:

1. Authority – ask whether this level can authorize expenditures. Are they responsible for hiring decisions? What are the managerial responsibilities assigned to this position? What decisions does this position have the authority to make? Providing guidance to your staff on precisely what is and what is not within their level of authority confers a level of clarity to each team member. This clarity has the effect of reducing anxiety while simultaneously empowering staff members to do their best work.

2. Job Descriptions – review each job description mentioned on the organization chart. Make sure that these documents reflect the authority assigned. Too often job descriptions only get dragged out once a year at performance review time. Great job descriptions give continual direction to staff members on what is expected of them.

3. Structure – how does your organization chart allow for power sharing throughout the system? Is all power confined to the upper most levels? If so, you have a constipated system that is not making the most of your talented employees. Describe the flow of power from level to level and from unit to unit. Consider building case studies so team members understand how things are designed to move throughout your system.

4. Power Flow – review your organization chart to analyze how power flows through the structure. Redistribute power downward to the most appropriate levels to actuate your staff’s talent and abilities. This will give your organization a turbo boost towards achieving its mission.

5. RACI Chart – build a RACI chart for major projects and responsibilities. In this matrix, describe who is Responsible, who is Accountable, who is to be Consulted, and who needs to be Informed.

If you actively engage these five steps you will maximize the power of your organization with surprising results. Your employees will thank you for clarifying what you expect of them. They will value being empowered to use their intelligence to make meaningful decisions towards your mission.


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