Office Space illustrates the importance of organizational design decisions to an organization’s culture and to employees’ motivation levels. A matrix structure can facilitate resource sharing and collaboration but may also create complicated working relationships and impose excessive stress on employees. Chotchkie’s organizational structure involved simpler working relationships, but these relationships were strained beyond the breaking point by a manager’s eccentricities. In a more general sense, Office Space shows that all organizational structures involve a series of trade-offs that must be carefully managed.
291 Mastering Strategic Management
Within a poorly organized firm like Initech, simply keeping possession of a treasured stapler is a challenge.
Wikimedia Commons – public domain.
Most organizational charts show clear divisions and boundaries between different units. The value of a much different approach was highlighted by former GE CEO Jack Welch when he created the term boundaryless organization. A boundaryless organization is one that removes the usual barriers between parts of the organization as well as barriers between the organization and others (Askenas, et. al., 1995). Eliminating all internal and external barriers is not possible, of course, but making progress toward being boundaryless can help an organization become more flexible and responsive. One example is W.L. Gore, a maker of fabrics, medical implants, industrial sealants, filtration systems, and consumer products. This firm avoids organizational charts, management layers, and supervisors despite having approximately nine thousand employees across thirty countries. Rather than granting formal titles to certain people, leaders with W.L. Gore emerge based on performance and they attract followers to their ideas over time. As one employee noted, “We vote with our feet. If you call a meeting, and people show up, you’re a leader (Hamel, 2007).”