Legend has it that King Arthur created the Round Table to prevent infighting between his Knights at company meetings. Since the table was round instead of rectangular, everyone at the table held equal status. This allowed King Arthur and the Knights to focus on pressing matters like slaying dragons, drinking mead at Yuletide feasts, and rescuing damsels in distress.
Even though the “Round Table” concept dates back to medieval times, only recently have business organizations begun to realize the benefits of a flat community structure. Starbucks, for example, is famous for its efforts to empower employees with the knowledge to make smart decisions and reduce organizational bottlenecks. By contrast, top-down military-style hierarchies are ineffective because such rigidity makes cross-organization communication difficult, and sometimes impossible.
In addition to changing an organization’s hierarchy like Starbucks and others have done, a private, employee-only forum is one way to improve communication throughout a company and flatten its organizational structure. For example, research has shown that the same communication patterns that result from a flat organizational structure lead to:
- Faster decisions
- More accurate decisions
- Greater employee satisfaction
- Rapid on-the-job learning
- Superior performance
Buy-in from employees at all levels of the organization is paramount to make a forum successful but the benefits are enormous. Better decision making and greater job satisfaction are crucial drivers of company morale. Plus, a private forum lays the foundation for an environment that nurtures employees and values their input.