Dynamic, on demand org charts

Have you ever wondered why org charts are hierarchical? Or why they are (relatively) fixed? Or even why there is only ever one org chart which is correct at any one time? Let’s start by asking ourselves

“what is an org chart actually for anyway?”

It sounds too obvious to ask doesn’t it? Surely the trust org chart is to show who’s boss, and who works for who. If you were a bit flash you might link your org chart to a contact list or even to people’s job description. But what else could it be for? Here are a couple of scenario’s to help us start exploring this question a little more:

  1. Imagine you have just been asked to set up a project team and launch a new product. The concept has been designed and market tested, but you now need to go through some more detailed design and figure out how to actually take it to market.
  2. Imagine you have an idea for a new leave function that calculates the leave you would have at some point in the future. Who do you contact to have it created and provided to everyone across the company?

Now we have a couple of specific scenarios, we can start asking what else we might want to use an org chart for, here are a few ideas. You might brainwrite a few more:

  • Show me who to contact to get a specific activity done, like set up a distribution channel or approve an update to the corporate leave application. Think about it, this is more than some broad job function, I want to know who performs a very specific activity.
  • Show me the steps I need to complete for a given process, and who is involved at each step
  • Show me how good people are. How about feedback, comments, peer reviews, or maybe the number of ‘likes’ they have received. Why pick someone mediocre from the org chart when you can pick a star?
  • Show me who to talk to (for a given task, or process) in my geographic area
  • Show me who knows who, and how people are linked. I’d like to be able to pull together a team which has worked together already, or at least be able to place myself in connection to these people.

Taking this perspective, I would say an org chart is there to help you get a job done. It’s there to connect people so they can work together efficiently. It’s also going to change depending on who you are, what you want to achieve, and where you are based. Using this approach, no two employees would see the same org chart again.

So here is an idea. What if we were to generate org charts as a search result, and not as a piece of static content? This way we could we have an org chart take into account contextual information such as who wants to know, what they want it for and where they are calling from. Where it gets tricky(er) is embedding org chart / search result into a richer information set so we can link to example work, start chat sessions and form collaborative groups right then and there without having to cross reference our findings against other systems.

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