Listening to the weather forecast this morning on my way to work, I started to develop an idea to take advantage of the warmest day of the year so far and get my Year 11s outside. By the time I got to school it was a fully formed activity which proved really useful in introducing the concept of tall and flat organisational structures.
I created a whole series of job roles, from Chief Executive down to Marketing Executive. My jobs were based upon retail financial services which is the industry I’m most familar with but you could change them to any local well known company.
At the start of the lesson we headed outside, and I assigned job roles to students who stood ‘in formation’ to create a hierarchical structure.
We then totalled up the wage bill to look at the issue of cost, looked at what was the most number of people any one person was in charge of and discussed what might be good and bad about that. I asked one of the lowly executives to pass a message up the chain of command via Chinese Whispers and timed how long it took to reach the Chief Executive and whether or not the message had become distorted along the way. This started to address the issue of communication. I then announced some news….
The Chief Executive had decided (s)he wanted a flatter structure and was going to embark on a programme of ‘delayering’. ‘Heads of’ in the Marketing Department were out. I then assigned them new job roles as new employees, and also got rid of Product Managers who were also reassigned new roles as new employees (you may find your class big enough to bring in other students at this point).
We totalled the wage bill for our new flatter structure, talked about the pros and cons of the Marketing Director having a wider span of control, and played Chinese Whispers again, which of course was a bit quicker this time to show the advantage of quicker and easier communication.
We then headed back in side to consolidate discussions and turn it in to some good quality folder notes.
Very memorable and visual, one I’ll be using again.
Here are the slides I used to give each class member a job role and show them the two structures back inside.