Is Apple's Famously Flat Structure Really Flat? And What Can That Mean for Smart Startups?

An INC Magazine article I read last night about the virtues of flat organizational structures (good stuff: loyalty, engagement) reminded me about the mystery of Apple's famously flat hierarchy.

For no reason but curiosity, I googled "apple flat," which auto-completed into "apple flat hierarchy." Exactly what I was looking for.

Top of the search result heap was a 2011 Financial Times article by Philip Delves Broughton worth re-reading for tech company founders, VCs, product developers, and supply chain leaders: "How Jobs made Apple fit for the future."

Most of my clients in the four professions listed above tell very different hierarchical stories from their own experiences, but they might find inspiration, even from Broughton's opening line: 

"The group is really three lashed together," he says.

And the article's citation of Reed Hastings' "talent density" principle is a nice nugget for recruiters and stealth job seekers / passive job seekers to noodle on when it comes to their efforts.

If everyone in my network hasn't already read this short article, they should. In case you're not convinced, here's Broughton's closing paragraph: