pyramids and diamonds…

more musing, this time about the structure of companies…
Traditionally, in the industrial age, companies were very much hierarchies. The big chief at the top, and a few big indians, then lots of little indians.

well, for a number of reasons, but ultimately, the barriers of entry to the top positions were incredibly high for the masses. You couldn’t go from being a little production line indian to CEO without a lot of effort…

so since this is an IT blog… what about IT?
Things in most companies are still pretty much the same, there has been a flattening of the hierarchy, but more or less the same. Except in IT.

because, the indians in IT actually have a lot of power. A LOT!
development in IT is often one of the most highly paid, highly trained areas in any given business. Very scarce resource, massive barriers to entry etc. In fact, very similar to the traditional high-level management roles.

so the power pyramid has become a diamond…
instead of…
/    \
/     \
you get …
/ \
\ /

hmm. so… what are all those people in the middle doing? It made sense in the pyramid scheme, when you had 1 senior manager, managing 4 junior managers, who manager 10 indians each.

in IT, one of the very common scenarios, particularly in big, microsofty, govt dept types is the Diamond. Why? Because, barriers to entry in the top level are the same, but barriers to entry in the ‘bottom’ or development area are now massively increased. So, the only place to go is in that ‘middle management’ area, which now has the lowest barriers to entry. Often, you will find a lot of BA, project management types in this area, often outnumbering the development team by an order of magnitude.

Before, in the industrial age hierarchy, you wanted to have lots of guys at the bottom. Because those guys actually made you money. They were the ones that painted the cars, turned the nuts, and connected the spark plugs.

That hasnt changed. The guys at the bottom, development (including testers and others), make the money. So, what value is that middle layer providing? can a diamond ever make sense?

what shape is your org?

pyramids and diamonds…

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