Are hierarchical, command and control structures dead in the water?

In his book Team of Teams, General McChrystal describes how the US military’s hierarchical command & control structure got in the way of operational success during the early stages of the Iraq war.

McChrystal’s solution was revolutionary: Decentralise authority to highly trained and empowered teams and develop a real-time information and operations group to centralise information and provide all teams with real-time, accurate data about war activities everywhere.

Many organisations are adopting this style of project teams with people who move from team to team, with very specific goals and their performance is rated more on team contribution, than singular performance from a number of perspectives, including input from team members.

Managers become project team managers and also have responsibility for the home team, when people return 'home' in terms of their longer career goals etc.

Key is the communication roles as people move away from traditional functional groupings.

Our engagement surveys and other recent studies suggest that managers are struggling to understand the significance of people skills under pressure and these are crucial in project and mission teams because their cooperation and creativity is critical. Projects easily fail on the back of a lack of both of these human factors.

Is the secret to improving our productivity, efficiency and moving our organisations' performance quickly upward? Can it help us be more agile?

If you want to read more on this subject take at look at this article by Deloitte where you can find lots more information on this concept.

The concept of matrix teams has taken off, but these are different. They get you moving around and break traditional lines of division. It's certainly a refreshing approach that of course has it's drawbacks, as our HR systems and management systems don't often keep up... but we are slowly making progress, towards what, that depends on your organisation, but not to consider it, might be corporate suicide.