Organimi is about helping people connect, communicate and collaborate, everywhere they work.
We think this starts by helping everyone visualize the organizations they are involved in. We do this by helping to create dynamic org charts for organizations to understand their structure and people better.
With organizations changing so rapidly – what with employee transfers, virtual teams, business acquisitions and divestments, and ongoing “reorganizations” – it can become hard for people to keep tab on who is who and what they do.
We are all familiar with the classic “box, name, title” charts that are the staple of every organizational design process. Organimi has great tools to make these kinds of organizational charts better than ever before – more engaging, interactive and interesting.
But we’re also asking deeper questions about organizational design – and how people can better visualize and comprehend organizational relationships as our workplaces become more and more dynamic.
It’s questions like these and other changes in the organization’s structure that drive Justin Matejka who joined Autodesk Research through an acquisition to create his Organic Org Chart visualization which has been featured in Fast Company and some other publications.
- An Employee Joins
- An Employee Changes Manager
- An Employee Leaves
Can you tell us briefly about yourself?
I am a Senior Research Scientist at Autodesk Research in Toronto. I work in the User Interface Research Group led by George Fitzmaurice and our main topic of research is looking into ways to make complex software applications easier to use. Besides that, we also look at novel input and output devices, and new visualization techniques.
What was the goal of your research?
The goal of the OrgOrgChart project was to help us get a better understanding of the organization structure of the company. My group came to Autodesk through the acquisition of a smaller company, Alias, and when we started working with people at Autodesk we found it difficult to figure out where everyone was organized in the company. (Who reported to who? Which team/division is that person in? etc.)
Once we had collected this data for a little while and analyzed it for one day at a time, I thought it might be interesting to look at how the org chart changed over time, and that is where the OrgOrgChart visualization came from.
What data did you use for your research and how did you get it?
The data used was a collection of files, one for each day, which was basically in the format:
Employee ID – Boss ID
With one row for each employee. Then by analyzing those files sequentially, we could see what changes in the organization occurred on each day.
I got the data by using the internal employee search function, and having the results automatically saved each day over a 4 year period.
What were the companies’ reactions when they saw research result? And biggest take away?
The most common reaction was “Wow, that’s cool!”, usually shortly followed by “That sure is a lot of activity”. That was our biggest take away, than in your own little corner of the company you notice some changes happening every couple of months or so, but when you look at the big picture of the entire company, it is amazing how much activity is happening on a daily basis.
Did you research result in any actionable insights?
Not that we are aware of, although we didn’t create the visualization specifically to highlight anything that needed changing. We mostly wanted it to be a mechanism to bring greater awareness to the amount of activity and the dynamic nature of the company.
If you were going to analyze other aspects of the company, what do you think would be most useful to users based on your research?
Right now we only look at the direct reporting structure of the organization, but it would be really interesting and useful to look at other links such as which people work together, or work on similar projects. This would make for a richer and more interesting data set, and might allow for a deeper understanding of the organization of the company.
I can remember the days from working in a large enterprise where it took me 2 hours stumbling across 4 floors off the office building just to find the right person to talk to, more so ashamed that even after 2 years of working across a cubicle from the same people, I never quiet knew what they did or even worse what their names were.
A couple of years before I joined it, the company joined had merged with another large enterprise – these were two huge organizations ($43 Billion and $85 Billion in market capitalization) merging together to form a formidable alliance in the global marketplace.
That is quite a lot of changes in the organization – at all levels, from people through to business practises, processes and systems.
I remember one of my colleagues who had front and center seats during the merger telling me about all the new faces and names that suddenly appeared around the office building one day. I am sure the HR people had a massive Org Structuring project underway to ensure everyone was in the right reporting line and they knew who they reported to. I can only imagine how long that took.
So Justin’s visualization is quite interesting to us. His visualization reminds us that organizations are like living organisms – evolving and changing over time.
Justin did a fanstastic job of capturing that with all its colors and flairs. We hope you enjoyed the post and the video – let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
What kind of organizational design ideas do you think should be added to Organimi?