Organizational Structures and Charts of the Future

Above is a visualization of what Organizational Chart software will deliver in the future, we will call it an Org Graph. Technology has finally caught up and we have the ability to capture and visualize the complexities of your modern Organizational Structure today.

The Organizational Cognizance Model

The Organizational Cognizance Model (OCM) aligns with and builds on the theories and academic advances of Druker, Weber, Mentzberg, Galbraith, Burton etc. OCM extends models with names like bureaucratic, post bureaucratic,  hierarchal, functional, matrix, command and control, informal, team, network, circles etc. It draws its relevance from real-world, first hand re-org, re-structure experience in companies with 20 to 14,000 people.  It is confirmed through the laboratory of practical application advanced by companies following the approaches of Collins (People and Seats), Wickman (Functional), Robertson (Circles), and Harnish (Functional and Process) etc. 

The reality is this, what works is a combination of all of the above, every organizational architecture requires all of this solid thinking and theory, we just need one real-world model that brings it all together and allows the organization to be “self structuring” for the situation = the OCM and it’s 14 Point Checklist is a path forward.

What is Organizational Cognizance?

“Who is doing what, and why?”

Question From Every Modern Day CEO

“What am I doing, and why?”

Question From Every Modern Day Worker

What we mean by Organizational Cognizance starts with reflecting on the natural gap between the two quotes above. 

A CEO wants to quickly understand: “Who is doing what, and why?”  An IC (Individual Contributor) wants to be able to easily answer: “What am I doing, and why?”

They both want the answers to be a click away, self serve, up to date, relevant and complete. They want the answers to provide direction and create cognizance around priorities and importance.

Why the word Cognizance and not Awareness? Our founder Walt Brown likes to put it this way: “We have 5 senses, we can feel, hear, smell, taste and see, these senses make us aware. So, let’s say we smell smoke, we are aware that we are smelling smoke, but when we know that what we are smelling is smoke from the cozy fire in the den, and not an electrical fire in the wall, that is cognizance.  We believe everyone in a company should be given the opportunity to be organizationally cognizant from the C Suite to the frontline worker”.

14 Point Checklist

The utopian goal is to empower every individual contributor in any company be able to reference their Organizational Chart | Org Graph and answer these 14 things about their job and to visualize these 14 things as demonstrated in the opening image. These 14 items make up what we call the Organizational Cognizance Model 14 Point Checklist. Answer these 14 things and your organizational structure will be transparent and your organizational chart will become modern day. People will be able to orient and prioritize, answer why.

  1. I know the Purpose of my Job.
  2. I know what Positions I fill as part of my Job and I know the Purpose of each of these Positions. 
  3. I know who I Report To.
  4. I know who I am Mentored By.
  5. I know who to turn to for Coaching in each of my Positions
  6. I know the Objectives I am pursuing and how they align with Co. Objectives.
  7. I know the Key Results I must hit to be doing a good job.
  8. I know what Teams I am Part Of and why.
  9. I know what Meetings I Attend and why.
  10. I know what Workflows my Job and Positions are part of.
  11. I know what Processes I follow and maintain as part of my Job and Positions.
  12. I know what Systems I login to, why, and how to use them.
  13. I know what Entities (Clients, Projects, Contracts) I Interact with.
  14. I know what Skills I need now and in the future.

We wrote the book on the future of Organizational Charts and Organizational Structures.

If you would like to read about the migration from Org Charts to Organizational Graphs and learn more about visualization and capture via Graph Database software, you can order a copy of Walt Brown’s foundational book on Org Graphs Death of The Org Chart.

Organizational Chart and Organizational Structure book
Walt Brown’s book describing the complexity of modern day organizations, how the old fashioned org chart will no longer capture this complexity and how using the Organizational Cognizance Model approach will unlock tremendous potential buried in your organization.

What we do is help you learn, we teach:

Self Guided Learning: On-line Video Courses

Our self lead on-line video courses are presented by Walt Brown, the creator of the OCM, and co-founder of OCog. Each video is accompanied by worksheets and handouts you can open or download. You can see the course outline here.

Group Live Workshops you can attend in person or virtually.

Once people have dipped their toes in the water via the self guided learn programs, we find folks like to gather to share their insights and advances with others who are students of the game.

Team Facilitations and Coaching: Live and live virtual.

This is where it all began. For the last 12 years we have run over 2,000 day long group live facilitations inside companies helping harvest for the 14 Point Checklist answers.

C-Suite Focus: We run a specific program to harvest and create alignment around exactly who is accountable for thinking about what, insuring there are no gaps and that nothing is hitting the floor or slipping through the gaps. During this day we help the team see where there are inefficiencies and blind spots. No, this is not a reorganization, it is a meeting of the minds. We call this the inside ring of an organizational structure – getting thinking ownership out in the open is the flag of the day. We capture these thinking positions and add them to your organizational chart to create a more precise organizational structure.

Individual Contributor Focus: We call this the outside ring and it starts way out in the organization, out where people can be forgotten, ignored. During these sessions we create buy-in, and cognizance and teach your people how to capture and document how the work really gets done in your company. Yes, very powerful.

Middle Manager Focus: The center rings, always saved for last. This is the area of space, the final frontier, where a lot of your organization’s thinking and doing is taking place and maybe dropping through the cracks. By getting super clear on what needs to be thought about and who owns the thinking at the C-Suite level and then jumping over the middle to the frontlines, we basically create a no-mans land where there will be no where to hide. If you think you might have some fat hiding in the middle, or you think there is some untapped muscle lurking there, it will come to the surface and you will be able to deal with it efficiently and logically.

C Suite ConsultingCoaching – Facilitation

This work is mostly done by our founder Walt Brown – he works with organizations like Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and many other large Corporate organizations in the US. First teaching the C-Suite the Organizational Cognizance Method along with the 14 Point Org Cog Checklist and then running facilitations that helps the teams quickly get on the same page to the question: “Who is doing what and why?” These are the same lessons we capture in the Self-Lead learnings by the way, the organizational structure subject matter and the way it manifests in an organization chart (org graph) is just a bit more complex.

Capture and Documentation Services

Some organizations are just “too busy” to lay down the initial tracks to capture and document the work our team does “in the room” extracting exactly what everyone is doing, why, how, with whom, when etc. We help clients organize the 14 Point organizational structure work we do together and then capture it in a modern day organizational chart, or rather organizational graph.

If you have made it this far, the following will be interesting, we describe the software developed to capture the Organizational Chart of the future.

Link to the video transcript
link to organizational chart software

At the end of the day, while we are still building what will be thought of as an Org Chart for a long, long time, what we are really moving too is an Org Graph. When one searches for “Org Graph”, we have found Google misinterprets one’s intention and will return links to Org Chart. Well, one would think if anything, Google would understand the difference between a Graph and a Chart. Org Graph Org Charts are built using Graph Database technology where relationships and edges carry as much priority as the nodes they connect. In this quick 1:10 video we demonstrate through visualizations the difference between an Org Graph and a distant cousin from the past, the Org Chart.

Below: Org Charting Graph software allows you to capture your classic Org Chart along with nice little pictures of your people, you know, normal 1980s stuff that adds very little organizational cognizance value to modern day complexity, just like most of the Org Charting Software out there. See: If Org Charts Could Talk.

Organizational Chart showing both Jobs and People
An Org Graph software will typically allow you to duplicate the familiar things you are used to seeing in a classic Org Chart like People and the Jobs they connect to.
Organizational Chart with People Pictures
Here the Org Charting Software is showing how you can view your work in a very similar format to an Org Chart.
Organizational Structure captured in an Organizational Chart animated as an Org Graph.

Graph Database solutions that are capturing modern org charts are called Org Graphs they are normally software as a service solutions for Organizational Graphing.

The need to capture, visualize and update a modern organization’s complexity requires a deeper tool than your grandfather’s Organizational Chart, it requires an Organizational Graph.

Below is a quick photo and video tour, dumbed down / over simplified to make it easy to absorb what Graph Database software is doing to capture and visualize the Org Cog Model and Organizational Charts.

Basic Org Chart View
Org Graphs still do amazingly effective Organizational Charts inside Org Graphing software. Above is classic “Hierarchal Visualization” filtered to only show the Node: Job and the Edge: ReportTo.
Organizational Chart View with People Jobs Reports
Of course we can attach humans to Jobs and visualize this like the simple view above. We kept it simple here and did not included names under the Person Node or have the sweet photo we are capable of. Nodes have tons of depth and color. You right click a node to drill down to discover and edit things like photos, contact information, rich text, videos, links, attachments all via your Nodes.
Organizational Charts to Teams for Organizational Structure
What about looking at your Meeting structure as it ties to your Org Chart and new Org Graph? We are displaying that scenario here, seen using our “Hierarchal Visualization”. We have filtered for the Nodes: Job and Meeting and filtered for the Edge: Attends.
Organizational Chart to Meetings for Organizational Structure
The same Meeting structure visualized in what is called a “Path Trace View”. Same Node and Edge filtering as above, just a different way to see it when we use an organizational graph.
Organizational Chart and OKR
How about visualizing how your Objectives tie to your Organization? This view is filtered to show Nodes: Job and Objective and Edges: AccountableFor and Supports and is easily viewed in our org graph solution.

An open letter to the sort of clients we work with.

“Can You Help Me Build an Organizational Chart for my complex company? How do I create a modern Organizational Chart?”

Dear Visitor,

We think you are here because you have come to the realization that a classic org chart is just not going to cut it and you are looking for a way to go about capturing and visualizing the complexity inside your organization. You are looking for a modern Org Chart building or plotting software.

Caution: What you are going to be introduced to below is the reality of 21st Century Organizations, so, give yourself permission to learn and absorb.

The Best Perspective to adopt when you find yourself scratching your head, is to assume the perspective of the Individual Contributor, an Employee. Try to imagine the organizational cognizance model and this org charting approach through the first-person eyes of an employee.

While there are many ways to use this org chart model; getting Individual contributors up to speed by reducing organizational confusion, at the individual level, is where the real magic happens! Focus on this benefit first and then think about how you might use it to optimize and analyze your organization second.

The Organizational Cognizance Model reveals the answers to these critical questions. What is my Job? What Positions do I fill? Who do I Report to? Who do I turn to to be Coached? What are my Objectives? What are the things I have control of that I can do> my Key Results? what Teams am I part of? What Meetings do I attend? What are the Workflows I participate in? What are the Processes I follow? What Systems do I interface with and need to master? What Entities (Projects, Contracts, Customers, Clients internal and external) do I interact with? Finally, what Skills are required?

Object icons of an organizational chart to reflect current organizational structure demands
Above are the Icons used in an organizational graph to represent the Nodes in the Organizational Cognizance Model for Organizational Graphing.
Organizational Chart expanded to see a modern organizational structure
Above, a Screen Capture showing our Org Graph Node (object) Icons in their unlabeled / generic form along with the Edges (relationships) that connect them: Visualized using the “Circular View”.

Refer to the above image along with the quick videos below and you can imagine an Organizational Graph being used many ways.

Above: In this 8:26 Org Charting or Org Graphing Demo Video – Walt narrates while walking you through the clicks, drags and drops functionality of our Graphical User Interface using a Job as the cornerstone example. You can speed it up with the video controls. =;- )

Above we take the long 8:26 video and speed it up four times so you can absorb the Org Graph faster.

One simple benefit, an easy ROI example, is to think about an on-boarding event of a new employee. With an Organizational Graph in play, your new individual contributor (IC) will have the answer to these 14 questions: Who is my boss, what is the Purpose of my Job and the Positions I fill, what are my Objectives, what are the Key Results I need to achieve, who do I turn to as my Coach, what Meetings am I part of, what Teams to I play with, what Workflows do I participate in, what Processes do I follow, what Systems do I interface with, and finally what Entities, Projects, Customers, Clients to I interact with.

Above is the long version of the Story of Pat, an example of how you can exercise the power of an Org Graph over an Org Chart to on-board your new employee Pat. Below is the sped up version of the Story of Pat.

Armed with this org graph information the uncomfortable interactions of a new employee are a thing of the past, not only can the Individual Contributor see where she/he belongs, the organization will be able to see how the new IC fits in, can your current organizational chart do that?

Organizational Chart and Organizational Structure Org Graph annimation
Animation of an Org Graph.


Logo for 7 questions 7 promises culture framework and firm

The genesis of Organizational Cognizance sprang from the hinge question of the 7: Do I Understand and Embrace what I am Accountable For? 7Q7P is the parent firm of OCOG, we are a consultancy who engage deeply with organizations around the world helping them build better engagement and solid work cultures. One of our cornerstone services is Organizational Cognizance, basically, starting with the shallow work clients have done with their Organizational Charts and helping them dig very deep to create the data they need to install an Org Graph. It is rewarding work and we have done it over 200 times across the past 12 years, impacting over 26,000 employee lives. To learn more about the 7 Questions and 7 Promises you can read Walt’s book The Patient Organization, or visit .

The 7Q7P offerings to create CulturalOperational, or Structural clarity and consistency in your organization. Learn more about 7Q7P.

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