Is It Time to Blow Up the Retail Org Chart?
Want an efficient, 21st century retail organization? Well, a good place to start might be by blowing up that antiquated 19th century Industrial Age organization chart.
Many a management consultant and incoming CEO’s first steps toward putting his or her stamp on a company are to realign reporting functions — swapping out direct lines for the dotted variety and vice versa; diagramming new reporting structures; perhaps even daringly cobbling a new box or two onto the existing model. This doesn’t begin to include performing such arcane maneuvers of the management dance as first centralizing and then de-centralizing activities and responsibilities; flattening the chart only to reestablish new hierarchical command and control models; or devoting countless hours to erecting and tearing down silos.
Oddly, given the popularity of this approach, nothing significant ever seems to change. Perhaps that’s because what we really need is a radical recasting of retail roles and responsibilities, one that nods less to the 19th century millinery shop and more to current digital, information-driven market models.
In the same way that finance played an increasingly critical role in corporate governance as the 1990s rolled on, what used to be called information technology now underpins literally everything a company does, making the role of the CIO or CTO as functionally vestigial as that of the CFO or CMO.
Everyday, the confines of the traditional organizational model are making it more difficult to address the opportunities created by consumer-facing technologies and platforms while eroding the margins of business as usual. We ought to be asking ourselves what a truly information-driven, digital and physical retailing organization could look like, how it would internally align resources, share data in real time and learn and evolve.
We stand on the edge of radical possibilities, shackled by organizational models of the past. Where are the chief customer officers or the chief corporate learning officers? Do we really need boxes separating technology, marketing and sales?
Do you agree that most retailers’ organizational models are unsuited to keeping up with the challenges of new platforms and channels? What old titles do you think can be retired and what new roles need to be identified?