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Building The Perfect Beast


The figure below illustrates a simplified model of a Starkermann dualism. My behavior can contribute to (amity), or detract from (enmity) your well being and vice versa.

Mr. Starkermann spent decades developing and running simulations of his models to gain an understanding of the behavior of groups. The table below (plucked from Bill Livingston’s D4P4D) shows the results of one of those simulation runs.

The table shows the deleterious effects of institutional hierarchy building. In a single tier organization, the group at the top, which includes everyone since no one is above or below anybody else, attains high levels of achievement (89%). In a 10 layer monstrosity, those at the top benefit greatly (98% achievement) at the expense of those dwelling at the bottom – who actually gain nothing and suffer the negative consequences of being a member of the borg.

What do you think? Does this model correspond to reality? How many tiers are in your org and where are you located?

  1. August 2, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I do not have exact figures to back my statements so have my guts feeling: if I take into account Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, I can’t see how a 1-tier organization can prevent people from (mis-)behaving in order to achieve their personal goals rather than the company’s.

    In addition, attribution of a supervisory responsibility is – de facto – a creation of a hierarchy; on the other hand, there are companies with way too many levels of supervisory. But I cannot really see 1-tier organizations exist in real life.

    • August 2, 2012 at 9:19 am

      Thanks for your input. I can’t see any non-hierarchical orgs with say, more than 5 people, existing in the real world either. The point to executives, I guess, is to watch carefully over how many layers your org is growing. In general, tis better to “develop horizontally” than to “grow vertically”. Growth is not necessarily the same as development.

  2. August 2, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Look at agile methodologies and start up companies.

    • August 2, 2012 at 9:44 am

      Thanks for stopping by Tom.

      How big, in terms of number of people, do you think “agile” scales “well” to? Can agile work in a company with not just SW engineers, but hardware engs, mechanical engs, scientists, HR, marketing, QA, finance departments? If you say “yes”, then can you point me toward some examples?

  1. August 7, 2012 at 8:26 am
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