The Origin of the Org Chart

Do you work in a company that utilizes an “org chart”? An org chart (short for, you guessed it, organizational chart) is a diagram of the hierarchy of an organization. It encompasses the major power positions within a company and reveals how they are being managed and communicated with one another. Org charts are so common that people may assume they have always existed. But org charts have their own unique origin story- and this one starts with the railways, an accident, and an idea.

wikimedia
wikimedia

Picture America in the 1800s. The Railways are being established and subsequently offering a valuable boost to the Industrial revolution in the East and literally paving the way for Westward expansion. Railways allowed people and goods to travel further, farther and faster. Demand was high and building the railways was costly. By 1840, Western Railroad, one of the first companies to build long rail lines, was managing multiple trains crossing paths everyday. This created an understandable hazard of trains colliding as they moved along the same track in opposite directions. In 1841, the hazard became a real-time reality when two trains collided head on, killing 2 people and injuring 17 others. The accident was a major turning point in railroad management and for the next 15 years railway companies began investing in oversight.

David McCallum, a superintendent for the New York an Erie Railroad, came up with an idea to boost profits and oversee the railways. He proposed that a specific group should oversee certain areas of the railway track. For example, central management would oversee regional divisions and monitor the trains passing through. McCallum also introduced several new management ideas, including strong hierarchical oversight that included an organization of the railroad with superintendents responsible for different areas of the railroad. He presented this idea in the form of a diagram, which may have been the first commercial org chart in history. After McCallum’s idea was initiated and successful, other railroads copied the org chart pattern. And because everyone likes a good idea, other firms coped the org chart from the railroad companies. And today, many companies still utilize the org chart to streamline their management.

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • Missing Couple Found Frozen After 75 Years

    On August 15, 1942 Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, a Swiss married couple who were also parents to seven children, walked up to a mountain pasture near Chandolin, Switzerland to feed their cows. This was a rare excursion for the couple to take together, since Francine was often pregnant and could not usually make the climb....

    Read More
  • 27 Contact Lenses Found Lodged in One Woman’s Eye

    The biggest nightmare for wearers of contact lenses came true for one British woman late last year. The 67-year-old went in for cataract surgery at Solihull Hospital in England last November. In addition to the cataracts, she also complained of pain in her right eye, which she assumed was caused by dry eyes or old...

    Read More
  • Was Jane Austen Poisoned?

    In July of 1817, popular novelist Jane Austen died. This writer of such perennial favorites as Pride and Prejudice and Emma was only 41, and she did not have a history of health problems. As medical science was not very advanced in the 1800s, no one knows what killed her, though Addison’s disease and lymphoma...

    Read More
  • The Man Who Tried to Raise the Perfect Wife

    Finding a wife was difficult in the 18th century. There was no online dating, and strict social controls made it difficult for members of the opposite sex to get to know one another. But things were especially hard for a man named Thomas Day, and he came up with a novel, though cruel, way to...

    Read More
  • Giant Iceberg Breaks Free in Antarctica

    Sometime between July 10th and July 12th, a giant iceberg broke free from Antarctica, wreaking havoc on shipping lanes in the area while it breaks up into smaller pieces. It broke off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf, automatically reducing that shelf’s area by 12% when it did so. Larsen C is now at its...

    Read More
  • The Worst Husband in British History

    By all accounts, Mary Eleanor Bowes should have had a happy life. She was born into one of the wealthiest families in England, as her father was the wealthy mine owner George Bowes. She was an only child, and she was much cherished by her parents. However, when her father unexpectedly died in 1760 when...

    Read More
  • The Papin Sisters and France’s Most Gruesome Murder Case

    Life seemed to be against the Papin sisters, Christine and Lea, from the time of their births, in 1905 and 1911 respectively. They were born into a highly dysfunctional family. Their mother reportedly had affairs, and their father was an abusive alcoholic. Their mother never showed them any affection, and was so mentally unstable that...

    Read More
  • The Legend of Spring-Heeled Jack

    Despite the many advances in science and industry that took place in Victorian England, that time period was till full of superstition and paranormal belief. Many people still believed in fairies, phrenology and spiritualism- all things that have since been proven false. Quite a few people also believed in a devil-man called Spring-Heeled Jack. The...

    Read More