Scenic side panel
Scenic side panel

Could flattening your workplace make it larger?

Is bigger the better the answer or could smaller be more effective in business?

Is bigger the better the answer or could smaller be more effective in business?



‘Flat companies’ often relates to ‘hacksaw CEOs’ and technology rushing in to replace people.

But, making a company flatter, with the right people, will generally make it more profitable.

“A flat organization …. has an organisational structure with few or no levels of middle management… the idea is that well-trained workers will be more productive when they are more directly involved in the decision making process, rather than closely supervised by many layers of management.”

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Maybe you aren’t running an organisation, but rather a retail shop front.

Secondly you might not be wanting to get rid of your middle layer management because… you don’t have any.

But the principle is the same; basically being more efficient, fun and profitable with what you have. Sure, you can say “oh there’s nothing to improve”. If so, shut your doors and give up now.

Here are five process starters on flattening yourself, or your company, for growth.


1. Sort your headset; getting more out of your staff doesn’t mean enslaving them

Profit is defined by money in versus money out. Simple.

So you can cut costs, as in reduce staff numbers or find ways to make them overall more “profitable” in a workplace day-to-day.

None of this is simply achieved by saying “work harder”.

The smarter option is to use existing staff and empower them to do more. It’s more profitable and significantly more enjoyable for them.


2. Review the processes

Minute to minute, day to day, week to week, month to month, quarter to quarter, year to year.

Good businesses turn as much of this into replicated process as possible.

You book hotels, you book flights, you issue tickets, you pay wages, you pay tax.

Simply start by defining the way things are currently done and get everyone to agree. Not how it can be better, but just how it is done. Nothing else. Yet. Involve EVERYONE.


3. Find potential improvement

In the review process you will instantly have identified low hanging fruit begging to be fixed.

It might be a replication of a task, it might be a triple check that isn’t required or maybe it’s something where a piece of technology can help staff be more effective.

Identify the opportunities.


4. Don’t start yet… get strategic

You can’t just start hacking away. Don’t do anything until you can be strategic.

Some things can be fixed but what else will it impact down the line?

Will you lose money for a period of time whilst you recoup an investment?

Probably… the shorter the return on investment cycle the better it feels, in the short term at least.


5. Start with the low hanging fruit

Change is hard and now is the time to go the low hanging fruit.

It’s a bit like trimming the roses versus digging up and replanting the entire back lawn.

It’s nice to see some results for the effort to build momentum and morale.

People need a lot of encouragement to change. Expect complaints. *sigh*


Can this really work for a travel agent?

I’m a firm believer that success can only come, particularly in a technology driven modern day environment, with continual improvement.

Improvement can be at a personal level – may be having a more polite tone of voice when you answer the phone.

It might be implementing a new email system that synchronises mail across computers.

It might go all the way through to business intelligence software that processes big data.

This ideology of flattening for growth can work for everyone.

Do you think it can work for travel agents?