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
  • Ireland’s Most Haunted Castle

    Don’t let its name fool you. Leap Castle, in Ireland’s County Offaly, is not named for people leaping off it. (In fact, Leap is actually pronounced “Lepp” in this instance.) It is however, reputed to be the most haunted castle in all of Ireland, and it may be the most haunted one in the world....

    Read More
  • Jacques Saint-Germain: New Orleans Vampire

    New Orleans is well-known for its eccentric inhabitants. If you’re into ghost stories, voodoo, or pretty much anything paranormal, you can find something of interest in this Louisiana city. It should come as no surprise, then, that The Big Easy had its very own vampire scare in the 20th century. One night in 1903, the...

    Read More
  • The Uninhabited Garbage Island in the South Pacific

    In 2015, a group of researchers traveled to Henderson Island, a small atoll in the South Pacific. This uninhabited island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, had been remarkable because its pristine beauty had been largely unaffected by humans. What the scientists found when they visited Henderson has proved that humanity’s capacity for destroying...

    Read More
  • When the Wealthy Hired Their Own Personal Garden Gnomes

    Most people are familiar with garden gnomes, the ornamental wooden or plastic creatures found in many gardens and dressed like Snow White’s seven dwarves. But did you know that in the 18th century you could hire a real person to act as your very own garden decoration? The practice was actually quite popular among the...

    Read More
  • How Inbreeding Caused the End of a Royal Family

    The Spanish branch of the Habsburg family once ruled vast swathes of land in Europe. At one point, they controlled not only Spain, but areas in modern-day Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and even the Americas, among other areas. But this powerful family came to a crashing end in 1700. It wasn’t war or murder that destroyed...

    Read More
  • One of the Art World’s Most Successful Hoaxes

    Paul Jordan-Smith was an editor and a literary critic for a major newspaper before he rose to great fame as an artist. In 1913, he developed a distaste for modern art after visiting an exhibition of modern artwork in Chicago. This was the first source of his inspiration to become an artist. The second and...

    Read More
  • New Jersey’s Most Famous Elephant

    America has plenty of interesting roadside attractions. World’s largest ball of twine? We have that. A replica of Stonehenge made out of old cars? We have that, too. We also have the world’s largest elephant building, which is located in Margate, New Jersey, beside the beach in Josephine Harron Park. This elephant building isn’t just...

    Read More
  • How Mother’s Day Ruined its Founder

    Mother’s Day for many people is a lighthearted celebration. It’s a day to take your mother to brunch, get her a card, or send her some flowers. But for the creator of the American version of the holiday, it was a serious business, and her support for it eventually ruined her life. Anna Jarvis, the...

    Read More