When Your World Is Flat

Laura Dallas Burford is the founder of LAD Enterprizes, a management consulting firm that partners with consultants as well as internal and external consulting organizations to successfully build the operational and delivery aspects of their practices. Laura appreciates feedback on her articles and can be reached at laura@ladenterprizes.com. She is the author of Project Management for Flat Organizations.

Project managers working in hierarchical environments can struggle when thrown into cultures with limited controls and informal processes. They need to adapt, encouraging the right amount of process to ensure success without threatening core values. Here are five areas where leadership skills can be leveraged to accomplish this tightrope act.

Consider the “flat organization.” It has few or no levels of management. It operates with open communication, informal processes and limited controls. Teams are empowered and encouraged to be collaborative, flexible and innovative. The flat organization’s leaders know that formal processes and controls can negatively impact the culture, which is at the core of the organization’s success. However, they also realize that having no processes and control can hinder the success of a project. They want a project manager who is flexible and can adapt to their environment; a leader who can implement the “right” amount of formality and control so that project success is possible  but not too much, so that the culture and day-to-day operations are not compromised.  

This article outlines five organizational characteristics often found in flat organizations and discusses the management, leadership and interpersonal skills that a project manager can adapt and leverage while leading projects …

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"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18."

- Albert Einstein

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