From Hierarchies To Networks: Mastering Influence in a Flatter World

In today’s interconnected and ‘flatter’ world, you no longer need to rely only on traditional hierarchies to get things done. Explore the myriad other ways to use your networks to find the right people to solve your problem.

A few weeks ago, I spoke at the Western Australian Local Government Association conference, addressing Mayors and Shire presidents of local councils and communities all around Western Australia.

A participant asked me an interesting question at the end of my presentation. She’s the shire president of a small community in regional Western Australia, with a small population and lower income than many larger councils. As a result, they find it difficult to be heard and have influence when interacting with the state government or applying for grants from the federal government. She wanted to know how to boost their influence – at least to the level it used to be.

My answer had two parts. The first – more obvious – part is that it’s sometimes about politics, especially when dealing with large organisations.

The other part of the answer is that we live in a ‘flatter’ world, and you don’t necessarily have to rely on the traditional hierarchies.

Sometimes, it’s better to move from hierarchies to networks.

I like to say the world is becoming ‘fast, flat, and free’. Being ‘flat’ means we have broken down hierarchies and we’re more connected than ever before.

For example:

  • If you’re a local government, instead of only looking at funding through grants or increased rates and levies, consider strategic partnerships with businesses or other organisations.
  • If you’re an employee keen on progressing in your career, instead of only working towards a promotion, you could start your own business.
  • If you’re a business owner who wants more customers, instead of traditional advertising, build an online community.

Obviously, not all of these will necessarily be better than working through the traditional hierarchy. And sometimes none of them will be as good. But at least consider them before discarding them.

In this flat world, there are myriad ways to connect with people who can help you solve problems.

I’ve created a worksheet on influencing in a flatter world, offering ideas on how to find these influencers and individuals who can help you. Download it and share it with your team.


What Next?

Scroll to Top