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A hybrid organizational structure is an approach to designing the internal operating structure of a company or other entity in a manner that makes use of several different organizational patterns, rather than relying on one particular model. Depending on the nature and type of the organization, this approach may combine various elements of lateral and hierarchical structures, coming up with a unique blend that is ideal for the purposes and culture of the organization involved. Typically, a hybrid organizational structure will seek to integrate the most desirable elements of other approaches to business organization into the model, while arranging the corporate structure so that any elements seen as liabilities are kept to a minimum.
There are a number of reasons why a company or other entity would consider this type of organizational structure. One has to do with the ability to be flexible. While retaining the authoritarian elements found in a hierarchical structure, a hybrid would also allow various departments to enjoy a greater degree of authority and responsibility within their individual areas. With this model, the company would be better suited to identify and act on opportunities with greater speed, without having to wait for permission from those higher in the company or organization. At the same time, the checks and balances put in place help to make sure that no one department is able to take actions that ultimately harm the interests of the remainder of the company.
In some cases, the concept of a hybrid organizational structure is mainly about task allocation in terms of what is done internally to keep the business operating at peak efficiency. In this scenario, each area or department has considerable freedom to manage its assigned tasks, and may even be able to work closely with one or two other departments in order to complete tasks relevant to both departments. With a hybrid approach, the emphasis is often more on getting the job done and less about following a highly specified procedure to manage that job. From this perspective, a hybrid organizational structure promotes creativity among employees, while still setting parameters that keep the business in compliance with any governmental regulations or industry standards that may apply.
With a hybrid organizational structure, employees are likely to feel more invested in the business, since there are additional avenues for participation in the actual life of the company, other than simply going to work and performing tasks in a prescribed manner. This type of flexible organization often has provisions for allowing employees to participate in committees and projects that help to strengthen the business, promote morale and sometimes lead to ideas that in the long run benefit the business, its owners, and everyone connected with the operation. While still placing ultimate responsibility in the hands of the owners and executives but providing additional opportunities for employees to make decisions and grow, the outcome can be a dynamic business that is able to respond to changing market conditions with greater ease, inspire more employee loyalty, and generally compete in just about any type of economy.
From my experience, a definite benefit of the hybrid organizational model is the ability to collaborate cross-functionally and learn multiple aspects of the business. In today's knowledge economy, it's great to have your hands in varying projects and have the opportunity to be more than a one-hit wonder.
Conversely, a negative is that communication can sometimes be compromised within this model. With more than one senior leader to report to, you often find that messages are not communicated or need to be repeated several times. You may often find a ton of projects on your lap as your various team leads may not communicate with one another.