In 1943, five years after it was founded and during the height of World War II, Walt Disney Studios put out an organization chart to explain how the company functioned. What’s fascinating is how it differs from org charts issued by most corporations. Typically, corporate org charts are hierarchical, with each operating division isolated into “silos” showing job titles according to reporting chain of command and ultimate authority. The CEO and SVPs get the higher positions and bigger boxes; the little boxes represent the expendable worker “bees.”
The Disney org chart, on the other hand, is based on process, from the story idea through direction to the final release of the film. All of the staff positions are in the service of supporting this work flow. Perhaps the question now is what should the org chart of the future look like, given the global workforce, telecommuting personnel, virtual employees, outsourced jobs and contract workers who sometimes outnumber salaried staff? In an idea-based, rather than a manufacturing-based, economy, how should a business organize itself? Does the very nature of their assignments imply that designers will always work in an environment like the Disney org chart and clients will always work in a hierarchical structure? And is this difference the crux of the disconnect between how designers and clients look at problems?