Organizations and their Maps

When we deal with organizations, we typically act toward the people we’re connecting with in the organization based on our default ‘map’ of the organization.

It’s important to understand that – like most things – we can represent things (including organizations) using multiple maps, all equally valid – and all useful in the right context. Here are three maps of Los Angeles (topographic, freeways, rail lines):

Similarly, we usually represent organizations with different maps.

Foundationally, there is the map of the explicit power within the organization – I think of this as “who can fire who.” It’s represented by the typical hierarchical org chart. Everything in the organization intersects this map – because people want to keep their jobs or advance, and the relationships in this map will determine whether they do or not.