I remember the day when I received the biggest promotion of my life. Up until that point, I had spent the ten years since graduating from college hanging out with teenagers as a professional youth worker. A missionary of sorts sent back in time to elevate the next generation of humans to loftier destinations than I ever sought for myself.

I was working at a public high school until one day, I realized that I wasn’t very good at it, so I left for good. Or, to put it a less self-deprecating way, I thought that perhaps I could be much better at something else. I taught myself html in 2000 and sold my first website for money when I was 10 years old. I started my first web development business in 2010 by accident when a friend and former employer of mine asked me in the Church parking lot if I knew how to build websites and I reservedly said “yes”, mostly out of desperation. My wife and I had returned from our honeymoon the night before and I had been laid off a week before the wedding.

What started as one website turned into many and, to this day, I’m still building. It provided enough income in the times when we needed it the most and allowed me the ten years I needed to live out my childhood fantasy. When I left, it felt as though I had used up all the jam in the jar, and the very next day I was offered a full-time position in marketing at a local energy company.

Within four months I was full-time, and two months after that my boss resigned. When the opportunity came to sit down with my boss’ boss, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, I looked him in the eyes and told him with a straight face that I wanted my old boss’ job. I made it through without breaking my stoic façade, but on the inside I was losing it. This was a coup. This was humbug. The only thing crazier than me asking, in all seriousness, for a job I wasn’t qualified for, was when they said yes.

The only problem was that not I nor him nor the guy that came before me had any real idea what on earth the job was. What I was stepping into was a role that was defined very differently by every major stakeholder in the company. What resulted was dysfunction. And a year later, no one in this story including the VP of Sales and Marketing, not the CEO, not me, was still working there.

I mentioned yesterday that companies are not organizations but organisms. The first characteristic of all living things is organization. What I mean to say is that companies are organized organisms. And the level of organization that a company possess will determine it’s capacity to impact it’s environment.

Over the past decade, we’ve had a serious conversation about the role of hierarchy inside of all organizations, from non-profit to for-profit and political spectrums. As a result, we’ve began experimenting with all forms of government in between.

Enter the buzz words.





And to some degree every attempt at reinventing organizational structures is half-baked at best, and more destructive than it’s predecessor at it’s worst. Think about the human body. A highly organized living structure. It does stuff I didn’t even know it could do – It keeps me alive despite my best efforts. It processes the equivalent of 11 million bits of information a second, while the conscious mind processes about 50 bits of information a second. Seriously? What am I even here for? I’m taking way too much credit for being alive. But doesn’t that sound a little like a CEO? 50 bits per second taking credit for 11 million?

In the human body, there is a clear hierarchy of structure. In an emergency, your body will automatically pull blood away from your extremities back to your “vital” organs. And yet, my pinky toe knows it’s function, understands the system its a part of, has just as much information access (?) than any other body part, and plays a critical function. In fact, for the most part (sorry apendix) the human body has very few parts and systems that are not critical to the intended function of the whole. Through a process of evolution, the human body has shed the vast majority of everything it doesn’t need. The parts that it has kept are a part of a highly organized system, that is continually broken down to smaller and smaller systems, down to the cellular level. Again, all with equal information access back to the nervous and cardiovascular system, or HQ.

Companies are allowed to have vital systems as well. The next evolution in the corporate hierarchy must begin to reflect a highly organized organic system of thinking where every person’s function is critical, they know the role that only they can fill, and they have ease of access all the way to the nervous system of the organization, and where the CEO is responsible for 0.0004545% of the critical function of the organization.