The Startup World Has An Org Chart

When I worked at the BBC, there was something incredibly striking in the way that some relationships worked. When the director of our division spoke, everyone listened. When the Director General spoke, people listened even harder. Some would say that these senior managers had lightening bolts coming out of their fingers, such was their power. In a single utterance, they could dramatically change the strategic direction of the organization.

In the startup world, there is often a perception that relationships are loose: everyone is on an equal footing and that the strange power-dynamics that play out in org chart ridden organizations do not play out. I've found this to be untrue.

Around Chicagoland, which is a fairly small start-up community, there is definitely an org chart. I'm still trying to figure out how the players fit together, but one thing is clear - the venture capitalists are the directors and CEOs of this community. In Chicago, there are one or two in particular -- I would say Lightbank and Matt McCall -- that have lightning bolt-like authority coming out of their fingertips. I've witnessed this first hand, as I've watched people jump to help them any way they can.

The lack of an organizational chart showing the power relationships is either and advantage or disadvantage, depending on your perspective.