The world’s first org chart: putting people first

Supporting a client on their global strategic restructuring recently , I have seen many, many org charts the past few months. Full of squares, triangles, solid lines, dotted lines, big boxes, smaller boxes.

What if we designed charts that reflect what organizations are: not some rigid pyramid, but ecosystems made up of people and relationships?

The world’s first ever organizational chart: When Brigadier General Daniel McCallum took over the Erie Railroad Company (which with over 500 miles of tracks was the largest than any railroad company at the time), he found it disorganized. Recognizing a need for a different way of managing staff and operations he created the world’s first organization chart.

What I love about this chart:
Foremost it reflects what an organization is all about: people.
It shows how they work, who is part of it, where they are, what they do and their relationship to each other. Not just who they report to. Leaders are not on top, they are actually at the bottom. McCallum placed them there, right at the back, empowering the front-line workers to deliver on the mission, on taking decisions. Plus, I appreciate its beautiful, aesthetic design.

What does your organizational chart look like? How could it reflect the true dynamics of your teams?


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