Why do companies revert to hierarchy?

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A question that I’ve asked myself many times over the last couple of years has resurfaced in light of the recent GitHub restructuring. Why do companies resort to hierarchy? So many set out with the grand ambition of keeping a flat structure – and many manage for a long time. People are happy, they are respected, communication is good and everyone can contribute to the future of the company in meaningful ways.

But with almost predictable inevitability it is at some point decided that structure is required to make the company more efficient. Whether it’s at 50, 100 or 500 people (which is a surprising spread of company sizes), visibility decreases and communication falters in a way that seems to say “we need structure” – but why; and is it even true?

So many traditional business experts seem to consider the way that start-ups organise themselves to be cute or naive and, whilst potentially fun, doomed to failure. Is there only 1 sensible way to structure a business? Or is there something significant we should be learning from the new generation of young companies desperate to prove that it can be done another way?

From my own experiences I know that it’s easier to go with the status quo. But I can’t figure out the reason why the flat structure becomes too much hard work. If there is a clear understanding of responsibilities and an efficient communication channel why can we not have a company made of many small teams that are themselves still operating as a start-up would?

Maybe it’s just a pipe dream but I’d be interested in finding out if anyone has made it work, or understands why it fails…

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2016, a whole different year

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I think this year is going to be an exciting one for me – first and foremost it’s going to mean finding a whole new bunch of fantastic people to work with. I’ve made the difficult decision to move on from FanDuel and I will be leaving behind the amazing people I’ve spent the last 5 years getting to know.

Since we sold Kotikan to FanDuel last year they’ve been very welcoming of the whole team and we have seen great collaboration with the various internal platform teams. This means cool new things for the mobile apps that we were already working on and the possibility of exciting new features that just were not possible as an external agency.

But having decided to move on where will I be? All over the place! I’ll be spending some of my time working with technology start-ups – offering advice or support in creating, growing or developing their software delivery teams. Initially I’m looking to work with Codebase and Bright Red Triangle based companies, but I’d be happy to chat to teams from other backgrounds too. I’m also going to be spending some time working on Open Source Software (such as the IDE I’ve been working on) – there are so many great things being pushed forward and I want to be part of the future of free software and the communities taking it out to industry and consumers.

Thanks so much to everyone who’s been involved in my journey at Loc8Solutions / Kotikan / FanDuel – I hope to work with you all again soon 🙂