On Military and Hierarchies

Abhishek Paul
1 min readMay 9, 2019

When we speak of company cultures today we compare the traditional hierarchial systems with the flat (or) no hierarchy environments that people and organizations seem to be moving towards.

These discussions invariably bring up the context of militaries and how they operate with rigid hierarchies. But there is something foundational that we miss about the context that tends to limit the learning that can be drawn from that specific example.

The military is built around the value system of willingness to sacrifice one’s life for that of others (people, teammates) and/or a cause. This value system is supreme and the hierarchy is a mere operationalization of it. We cannot make direct comparisons on the tactics (hierarchies) when the values or ethos are so vastly different (in a typical organization).

This means that the military example cannot be used to decide the effectiveness of the hierarchial system one way or another.