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Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization by Dan Pontefract

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Chapter Eleven

Flat Army in Action

The greatness of the strategy is proven by the fact that in retrospect it seems obvious.
—Darren Entwistle

Over the course of my research and reading for this book, I've come across a number of interesting companies whose actions illustrate Flat Army ideas in action—or the reverse. You can be the judge as to whether each example features Flat Army in the field or an anachronistic hierarchy.

NHS

England's famous National Health Service (NHS) was featured prominently in the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies in London. The NHS was created by the National Health Service Act in 1946. As you might expect, it's the national health service for all of England. (Separate NHS operations are found in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.) There were 1,210,784 people working at NHS as of May 2012, and roughly 47 percent are in support staff or infrastructure support roles.

A series of reports was released in 2011 and 2012 by the King's Fund Leadership Review that sought to determine the degree to which NHS managers and support staff were essential to the patient care cycle. Were they as essential as doctors and nurses? What the reports found lays credible claim to the need for Flat Army at NHS. Four of the major points included:

  • Leadership at the NHS needs to become shared and distributed.
  • Leadership practice is currently overly reliant on heroic individuals, not on the effective use of teams and organizations.
  • Leaders are operating in silos—not ...

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