Potential of line organisation

A clear form of organization is the line organization. The line organization derives its advantages from the fact that it is the clearest and most uncomplicated of all organizational forms.

However, this is also its limitation. A line organization also makes companies quite immobile.

Line organizations date back to the time of industrialization. At that time, machines were much more expensive than labor. Accordingly, the focus of interest was on operating the machines as efficiently as possible. Employees were needed to run the machines. The machines soon became specialized for certain operations (e.g. punching or drilling). This meant that extensive machining operations were increasingly broken down into individual work steps (Taylorization). Management now had to ensure that these individual work steps were performed by employees in as short a time as possible. Of course, such work was no fun for the employees and did not lead them anywhere. Motivation to perform could only be gained through payment. In the meantime, employees have become more informed and qualified, and they have also become more expensive. The resource “employee” should therefore be given a higher priority. The potential of employees cannot be tapped well in hierarchically managed line organizations.

Another disadvantage of line organizations is “silo thinking”, which is often observed among employees and “headcount thinking” among managers. The former prevents employees from taking a holistic view, with the result that optimization takes place in their own area of work, but not for the benefit of the overall process. The latter can lead to unbalanced capacity between departments, resulting in bottlenecks.

Pay attention to communicative exchange and ongoing coordination between operational functions, between “silos”. Ensure that the business process is not hindered by boundaries between divisions and departments. Alignment at key interfaces along operational processes is essential to this end. How are interfaces “managed” in your organization?

Line organizations may still be suitable for production environments. However, in order to tap the potential of employees for the company, the structures should not be understood and lived in a hierarchical way. Managers should also see their task in line organizations as leading their teams to independent and responsible decision making.


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