Areas of Responsibility (AoR)

The folks at Asana are using a simple approach to dealing with some of the accountability challenges in functional orgs which they call Areas of Responsibility (AoR) and is covered in this Quora post: 

What is an AoR at Asana?

Simply put, they’ve created a responsibility-based, rather than people-based view of their organization. The building block is a clear responsibility over a well defined domain which can then be mapped to a person currently owning this responsibility. On average, each employee owns about 3-4 AoRs in which they have full decision making authority. “Who owns X?” becomes a much simpler question to answer. 

The challenge with this approach is scaling it. At 50 employees, navigating a list of 150-200 AoRs is manageable. At 200 employees, with 600-800 AoRs it quickly becomes unwieldy. Which means that you need to start grouping/clustering AORs, and you go back to the divisional vs. functional debate… Especially when you need more than one level of hierarchy, should you group them divisionally or functionally? 

My answer: Both. Depending on use case, one or the other would make the most sense. As we operate within our orgs, not matter how they’re organized, we constantly switch our frame of thought between functional and divisional depending on the task at hand. A good tool should mirror that by having some sort of a toggle between a divisional and a functional view. 

Most of the “Org Chart” tools that I know do not account for this “dual view” of the org. Do you know any that do? 

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Areas of Responsibility (AoR)

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