The Org Chart Time Machine

Take a ride in the Business Time Machine and get a glimpse into your organization one year from now.

By Seth Conger | February 9, 2024

What You'll Learn...

What Is A Future Org Chart?

“This is the year we’re going to 10x!” exclaims the visionary entrepreneur at the first all-hands meeting of the year.

Last year, it was about working in our zones of genius and delegating everything else. 

The year before it was about creating sustainable habits.

Before that, our focus was on creating a thriving culture.

Stephen Covey said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” 

The problem is, your main thing is probably not a new trend that you picked up from the NY Times best sellers list. It’s likely the most boring parts of your business: the ones that keep the revenue flowing, operations smooth, and customers happy.

The truth is, sustainable business growth hinges on planning, adjusting, and refining the fundamentals. Some succeed by swinging for the fences and building the plane as they fly.

The hustle culture and Pitchbook news make sure we see the unicorn success stories.

But so many more fail and vanish, their lessons lost. 

Don’t make the same mistake I made.

I raised $1.25M from VCs, had a big vision (save the world stuff), and a solid track record. It was going great, right up until COVID hit. 

The work that needed to be done on our operations and planning, which we’d set aside for more vision sessions, would have been invaluable when the world collapsed and funding ceased.

There are always “environmental changes” than can take out your business, but solid fundamentals and proactive planning may just keep you afloat when the world melts down.

With that said, here’s a great exercise to help you move into a more proactive state with your business, The Future Org Chart.

The Future Org Chart isn’t just a tool; it’s a mindset shift. It’s about changing the important fundamental elements of your business from reactive to proactive

Why The Future Org Chart Matters

Unlike traditional org charts, the Future Org Chart isn’t just your current team structure. 

The Future Org Chart is a dynamic blueprint for where you want your business to be in a year. This exercise involves setting goals from a place of gratitude, not need, and constructing an org chart to support this future vision. It’s about identifying essential roles for your future goals, independent of your current team. This proactive approach clarifies your path to scaling your business and prepares you for future challenges. By the end, you’ll understand the roles you need and the adjustments required in your team, laying a foundation for sustained growth.

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How To Create Your Future Org Chart

Step 1: A new approach to goal setting

You know what’s wrong with social media? Comparison is a bitch. You end up feeling like everyone’s life is better than yours. 

So why do we do that every year with our own goal setting? 

We establish goals for the future that we don’t have yet, as if everything will be better when we reach those milestones. We’ve put ourselves in a comparative state with our future self and we are instantly stressed out by the fact we’re not there yet. 

Not a good idea. 

Want a better way? Set your goals from a place of gratitude. Imagine you’ve already accomplished these things in the future and you are grateful for not only the milestones reached but the path you took to get there, the suffering and lessons learned. 

Envision your personal and professional life as a result of accomplishing these milestones.

  • How do you feel?
  • What are you focused on?
  • What does a typical day look like?
  • Who are you surrounded by?

Feeling gratitude for what your business has accomplished and the path you took to get there, write down your milestones in a few key categories:

  • Revenue
  • Profit
  • Your Time
  • Impact
  • Culture
  • Any other important category for your business

Got your milestones for the end of the year? Great, on to Step 2.

Step 2: Build your future org chart

Take out a large sheet of paper, a Google sheet if your handwriting sucks, or Canva if you’re an overachiever. 

Sketch out an org chart with roles only, (not people) that supports the goals and milestones above. 

Your future org chart should have some vertical sections; Sales | Operations | Service | etc., and some horizontal sections based upon team hierarchy – C-Suite | VP | Director | Specialist | etc. This will all depend on the size of your business. It may look something like this:

Pro Tips:

  • Role titles mean something. Don’t hand out a director title to someone who is an individual contributor. Directors manage people. Sooner or later, a team member will Glassdoor their title and wonder why they’re not making the higher end of the range for their position… And their next employer will wonder why they were a director at their last role.
  • Sales and service are different things. You may have a small shop and the same person is playing two roles. Let’s not make this a forever thing, so don’t sketch it out on your future org chart that way. One person can play two roles, two roles can’t play one person…
  • Don’t underestimate the need for people to achieve expected growth. You may need to add additional leadership roles you have not had before. You may need an IT person to handle your janky tech stack. You may need an assistant to meet your personal time goals. If you were not conservative on your goals, don’t be conservative in what it will take to support your company at that level.
  • Resist the urge to think about your current people. Don’t do it! You may have some great people and we’ll find out in the next step where they fit. For now, these are the roles you need, not the people who fit into those roles.

Step 3: Develop roles and responsibilities

This one’s simple. Take out another sheet of paper, and for each role, list out 3-5 responsibilities. Be succinct and specific and list the KPIs if you know them.

Example: Operations Director

  • Developing and completion of OKRs at 70%
  • Project management
  • Internal Technology
  • Measurement of company-wide KPIs
  • Creating and maintaining company-wide SOPs

Do this for every role on your new org chart.

Step 4: Overlay your people

You have your org chart, and all of the roles and responsibilities to sustain the business at your future goals (and then some). Now it’s time to overlay your current team. Duplicate your future org chart, then:

  1. Write two columns off to the side of the paper: “Not a Fit” & “Role to Hire For.”
  2. Take all the people who are a natural fit for a role and put their names in those placeholders. This could mean that they need a few months of mentorship to get there but this is not a wild stretch. Remember, one name can go into multiple roles.
  3. Take all the people who don’t have a natural fit on your new org chart and put them into the “Not a Fit” column.
  4. Write down all of the roles that are left without a name into the “Role to Hire For” column.

Step 5: Reflect

Now, what kind of emotions does this bring up for you? If you’re like most people, the answer is “a lot, a lot of emotions.” This can be exciting, scary, intimidating, and depressing all at the same time. 

Some good questions to ask yourself:

  • How many people do you currently have who are mismatches for your future needs?
  • Who do you need to put more time and effort into to ensure they will grow into the role you need?
  • How many hires do you need to make?

Whatever your current state of feels, just know that it will subside, and you’ll come back to present reality in a few minutes. 

Congratulations, you’ve taken the first major step toward proactive hiring in your business. 

You now know who to lean in with, what roles to start looking for, and who will likely be successful elsewhere in the future. Knowing all of this puts you in the driver’s seat of your own business.

Remember, the Future Org Chart isn’t just a tool; it’s a mindset shift. It’s about changing the important fundamental elements of your business from reactive to proactive. 

If you found this journey through the Future Org Chart enlightening, I’d love to keep the conversation going. Connect with me on Instagram @sethconger and slide into my DMs with your own experiences and insights.

  • Seth Conger

    Seth’s career journey encompasses roles in many industries, from sales in professional sports to semi-truck driving to key positions in the emerging market of Functional Medicine. He has grown as a leader in the cash-pay medical space, including a successful 7-figure exit from a Functional Medicine practice, co-authoring a seminal paper in a peer-reviewed medical journal for reversing cognitive decline and creating one of the first VC backed startups in the field. Currently, as the COO of an ecosystem of companies, Seth oversees Freedom Practice Coaching, which empowers medical practitioners with business training and personal growth mentoring, Vibility, a technology platform enhancing patient-practitioner engagement and driving data-informed healthcare decisions and Aptogenix, an innovative supplement company. Together these companies are paving the way to make chronic disease optional. Based in Morrison, CO, Seth lives with his wife and two boys, enjoys skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer and long conversations around both professional and personal work.

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