Hi all-

I'm a relative MT newbie - probably listened to about 30-40 of the podcasts so far, starting with the basics.

Recently, I listened to the Managing in a Matrix Organization casts and while I understand Mike and Mark's criticisms of that structure, what I am really interested in is what structure they prefer. Does their preferred structure have a name? Where can I read about it so that I can try to implement it?

Perhaps this preferred structure is described in another cast? If so, can someone point me to it?

I'm the CEO of a 20 person company and currently we are organized into small teams around products (plus admin/exec staff). This has worked well for us, but I'm concerned about how well it will scale, so I'm researching other structures.


jhack's picture


Long time listener here...and there is no podcast by Mark and Mike on their ideal org structure.

I've also spent most of my career in start up and early stage software technology companies, and am pretty familiar with the challenges of being 20 people. What does your company do? Is it product or service (or some mix thereof)? Are you a fast growth environment, or relatively steady?

Looking forward to continuing the conversation,

John Hack

adragnes's picture

There is no ideal organisational structure, or at least no structure that is ideal for all organisations. There is a book called "Competing by Design: The Power of Organizational Structure" by David A. Nadler and Michael L. Tushman with a pretty good overview of what structures there are and their pros and cons.

I think the most important thing is to keep it simple and to realise that how the org chart looks like and how the organisation really works can be quite different.


jhack's picture

In software development, for example, it's considered a better practice to align your organization with the system architecture. (via Fred Brooks)


kleenex's picture

I appreciate the responses, folks.

My company develops online games, primarily for social networks. We have been around for 8 years and have grown organically up to this point (my partner and I bootstrapped the company), but now we are considering bringing in some outside capital and this would mean accelerating our growth.

Do any of you know if Mike and Mark have commented on agile software development practices? The teams in my company practice Agile and it has worked out well for us. I'd be interested in hearing the MT take on it.

I'll also pick up the book that was mentioned.


AManagerTool's picture

I think that this topic is wrestled with by ALL companies. I work in a big pharma. We are organized around the development lifecycle of a drug except for the initial discovery phase, which by its very nature needs a more academic and exploratory approach. For that phase, we are organized around therapeutic areas, for example inflamation.

We have been bought by a company that organizes itself purely by therapeutic areas in all phases of the drug lifecycle. For example, inflamation is almost it's own division in research with each function residing in that org. Both our companies make the same products and the process is the same. I don't know if that's better or worse but it is certainly different.

It's kind of what you feel makes sense, try it out, measure results and adjust. I don't think that there is an ideal structure. The answer depends.

jhack's picture

Startup and early stage companies do not grow smoothly.

There are "inflection points" when the old systems break down completely and radical reorganizations are required. For example, somewhere around 25 employees, it is no longer possible for everyone to know everything about "what's going on" and more formal communications have to be put into place. You also reach a point where customer service no longer knows every customer intimately.

Specialization becomes necessary in sales and marketing after a certain point.

Moreover, the skills that served one of your "senior" people well in the early days (can do anything, works long hours, does "whatever it takes") will become handicaps (no depth in key area, can't delegate effectively).

Send me a Private Message if you'd like to discuss in detail offline.

John Hack

jhack's picture

...there are several threads about Agile Development here:


AManagerTool's picture

Thanks John for your insights. This topic facinates me.

AManagerTool's picture

Thanks John for your insights. This topic fascinates me.