To create a system where a flat organizational model can be implemented in a large organization such as Boeing several aspects must be taken into consideration and implemented. The organization must align employees with high technology and skills, through recognition and training. Additionally, in what can only be defined as a quasi-flat organization, with less management hierarchy but with management still in place the communication must be improved between those in management and those in production. This communication model requires transparent leadership roles and intense observational and communication skills on the part of both segments. The system must also ensure the development of a team structure among employees that strengthens the individual and group ability to communicate and work together to create innovation and for individuals to be a part of decision making and to be empowered to do so. Lastly, the whole of the organization must improve and implement a high level of communication on every aspect of production, including cost, implementation and actual structures and needs.
Regardless of the best case scenario there are known concerns both realized and expected from the implementation of a flat organization model. Restructuring of any kind is a difficult transition period, at the wake of reduction of many jobs Boeing is in a position to fall prey to some of these downfalls. The need for additional training of new and old employees is essential and can create problems, such as overload and time constraints, taking employees away from traditional production tasks and utilizing resources that may not be complete. Hiring of new employees with skills outside of the traditional, to work within this new flat organization may strain the system as well. Employees may feel and realize that the expectations of their work have increased while compensation may or may not follow.
A study of Boeing employees found that individuals who experienced a high degree of emotional stress on the job were more than twice as likely to file back injury claims than other employees (Gaines, 1993). Working harder to cover the tasks of others also results in a higher accident rate. One study of 177 companies found that although the average workforce was cut by only 13% over a fifteen-month period, fully onethird of the firms reported an increase in workers' compensation claims. One in five companies said their workers' compensation costs increased between 50 and 100% ("A Study of Worker, "1992). (De Meuse & Marks, 2003, p. 27)
Recognizing these concerns quickly, will be a challenge as there are physically less people in management to observe such concerns, and implement needed changes. New responsibilities, may be more stressful than old employees can handle, as the level of the whole of the work they need to do increases. Communication, is of coarse the key, and communication takes time and skills that need to be honed.
In summary, the traditional form of hierarchical management has been in place for many years, especially in the high technology manufacturing industry. Employees must feel empowered, as well as capable of serving the company in all the new skills they must implement. New employees must be prepared to take on higher skill sets, in addition to skilled manufacturing roles. The flat organization model may be the wave of the future but it also necessitates, downsizing (as a response to changes in all areas). Boeing, as well as many other industries are in for a very constructive change but with all change comes conflict and potential losses, both real and perceived. Transitional periods in any business are a challenge and being up to the task is essential.
De Meuse, K.P. & Marks, M.L. (Eds.). (2003). Resizing the Organization: Managing Layoffs, Divestitures, and Closings: Maximizing Gain While Minimizing Pain. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
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