By Dr. Bill Thomas / Posted on January 24th, 2012
Flat is Good
Flat tires are bad. Flat cakes are bad. Flat organizations, can be, good. So, what makes an organization “flat?”
All human organizations have leaders and followers. One thing that defines a free society is that people can be a leader in one organization and a follower in another. All of us are part-time leaders and part-time followers. Some organizations create an enormous distance between leaders and followers. For example, the United States Army has a very steep and very large hierarchy that separates the lowest recruit from the highest general. An army private has very little chance of every becoming a general and generals never get busted down to private. The Army is the opposite of a “flat” organization.
A steep hierarchy is good for things like fighting wars and flying to the moon but steep organizations are pretty cold and very impersonal.
Flat organizations have a much smaller distance between leaders and followers. These two groups are able to challenge each other’s ideas. Green House homes are meant to be Flat organizations because the Elders need for all of us to work together. Everyone in The Green House home has ideas and insights and everyone can contribute to the conversation.
How can we tell if a Green House home is losing its “flatness?”
The main symptom is a decrease in problem-solving conversations and an increase in “problem-solving” by the leaders. In The Green House, leaders are not supposed to solve problems. In The Green House, leaders are supposed to help others solve problems.
The loss of “flatness” can become a big problem if people are not aware that it is happening. So, here is my challenge for you: Have a conversation about the flatness of your Green House home because when it comes to warmth and compassion, “flat is good.”