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Org Design Defines Managers' Scope

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Have you ever tried coaching product management in an organization with no teams? It won't work, whether you call someone a 'product owner' or not. They won't be able to fulfill that role. But why?

Because organizational design defines and dictates the scope of work for the managers. So if you're a manager with no teams or in an environment with weak cross-functional teams – you will no choice but manage for the teams. Micromanagement will be your daily job.

In contrary, if your teams are full-stack teams and even understand their shared work, there you as a manager will be able to do some true high-level management. Macro-management will be your playfield.

And it is not that micromanagers are worse than macro-managers. No, this is not what I am implying. But the impact that you can make as a manager will be different depending on which type of management you are allowed to do.

And the type of management you can do – that will be dictated and enabled by the org design you're.

Consider the diagram below:

This scheme above is a derived and simplified scheme of the seven archetypes of Org Topologies.

The higher is the org design simplicity (vertical axis), the higher is the level of management possible (horizontal axis): from project management (aka micromanagement) to product ownership (aka macro-management).

So if you want to pump up your managers to get better at product management – start with your org design. Don't start with a product management class (even with such a great one as my CSPO class), there will be no use for that.

Therefore, before teaching your product managers agile and hiring them a coach – create the right environment, consider a correct org design where teams will be able to absorb as much complexity as possible. Then your product management will flourish.

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