The first time that I heard the term "flat organization," I was sitting across from a C-Level acquaintance and couldn't help but picture everyone in the company lined up across a table. Or, I would picture the traditional organizational chart being smashed down from a three-dimensional structure, to a two-dimensional view. Hmmm, it would seem that I would rather be on the outskirts of that smash, so I wouldn't be the squashed! I was actually thankful that I was not a part of the organization.
Wikipedia describes a flat organization in a pretty straight-forward manner. I know, it is Wikipedia, but hey, I wanted to give it to you in an easy-to-understand format. No insults intended!
Flat Organization In Theory
The concept, as this gentleman explained it, was that no one was more important than any other person. Ok, sounds good, but, in reality, does it work that way? I mean, the part that he seemed to miss was that it sounded good in his office, but when we walked out of his office, it was evident that everyone seemed to be so afraid of losing their jobs that they would respect his role because of the very title that showed up on his business card, regardless of what his views on management were. So, that squashed flat organization may have the underlings creeping to hide and respect those above them until the whole two-dimensional process became an organization chart again, and everyone bowed down to the authority figures at the top.
At that point I thought the concept of a flat organization sounded good, but, in reality, it may not be possible, certainly not if the "team" were hiding in fear.