Choosing Color to Improve Diagrams

It is a well known axiom that color is one of the most important components of diagramming. Whatever diagram type you do use, the utilization of a color scheme can make it either excellent or mediocre. This post will offer you a few simple but potent ways in which you could use color to great effect.


1. Color can be Used as a Differentiator

One of the main ways in which a color code can be utilized is for the purpose of differentiation. Consider an org chart, where (as an HR Manager) you want a split of the two sexes. Yourorganogram would look something like the example shown below.

As you can see, this is just a simple example. But colour can also be used to differentiate various things like office locations and hierarchy on an org chart, too. The use of color may be extended to various diagram types as well. For instance, consider using different colors to show what is a process and what is a decision in a flowchart.


2. Use Color to show Intensity

Color may also be used as an excellent barometer to show the difficulty or intensity that is present in certain tasks. For instance, if you are Project Manager who is tracking down a flowchart, you could use various colors to generate the difficulty of certain processes. A basic example is shown below.


3. Make it a Point to Utilize Color in the right Context

One of the main things that we need to be mindful of is using color that is relevant to whatever it is we are drawing. For instance, if you take a topographic map, certain colors would have meaning i.e. brown would be indicative of land, green would be indicative of vegetation and blue would mean sea. Another example would be the color utilization to show an increase in temperature. You would have the color increasing in intensity from light orange to dark orange and subsequently red.

4. Use Color to ensure Readability

One of the main benefits of using color is that you get to ensure absolute clarity. Usually, you need to pay attention to readability. Avoid designs that have color contrasts that cannot be easily read like dark brown text on a dark brown background. An ideal example is shown below, where proper utilization of color to ensure readability is encircled in red.

5. Use Colors from the same Palette

While we are all for the proper use of color, remember that you can seriously draw diagrams quick and easy with Creately’s one-click styles. Each row has complementary colors, and you can go up or down to show intensity within a color. Why not try this smart app for free and see for yourself!

We do agree that colour per se and color combinations are inherently subjective, yet you cannot deny the fact that it is certainly something that is important and can be widely used to offer a glut of benefits from easy assimilation of information to making diagrams look real beautiful. As always, we’d be thrilled with whatever response that you may have and would encourage you to make comments on this post and/or to get in touch with us if you got any queries.

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A simple video tutorial ~ How-to draw Org Charts with Creately!

We have a series of tutorial videos, but with the continuous developments and feature upgrades to Creately these tutorials look a tad bit outdated. So we thought of coming up with new tutorial videos to highlight some of the predominant updated features. Starting from this week, you can expect a series of video tutorials demonstrating how-to draw different kinds of diagrams with Creately.

Today, lets take a look at a simple 2-min how-to video on drawing professional Org Charts with Creately. With this, you will agree that creating Org Charts is seriously a simple affair.

We did this to help you understand some of the basic features. You can hit us back if you got any queries. We’re listening to you as always!

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3 ways to make your Org Charts better

We did speak quite a bit about Org Charts a few posts back, but in this post we thought of letting you all in on 3 simple points that can to help make your Org Charts more focused and clearer.

1. Know the difference between Vertical and Horizontal

A vertical organizational structure denotes a strict top down or bottom up structure. Typically, a rigid top down vertical organizational structure has been favored for businesses and other organization types. On the other hand, a horizontal organizational structure means a flat or semi- flat organizational structure, like a meritocracy. While many do design their Org Charts with their direct reports being positioned horizontally, the right thing to do is to be aware of what your company structure is all about, i.e. vertical or horizontal before actually attempting an Org Chart. A vertical Org Chart is shown below.

2. Name It and then Put a Face to It

Including images of staff in your Org Chart can help humanize your company intranet site, assist new employees get better acquainted, and help virtual teams that are not in close proximity to get a sense of who their co-workers are. But you really need not limit yourself to just staff pictures. If you do have an Org Chart that is rather mundane and abstract, you could infuse some liveliness and color to it but plugging in some images to highlight the type of operations as well. For instance, if you have a department called Division of Finance & Management, you could have a dollar sign image next to it. Check out how big a difference, having a picture and not having one makes below.

3. Go Unconventional with Org Charts

While Org Charts are conventionally used by HR to show the basic structure that is present in an organization, why not use such a diagram type to illustrate other types of information? For instance, you could use Color to showcase the gender balance or the different age groups present in an organization. Don’t stop there though, you could even use a colorful Org Chart to allocate staff members into different teams in the Sports Committee, to assess the number of Senior Executives present as opposed to Junior Executives or even. There really is no limit as to what you can do with organigrams, all it takes is some intuition and creativity.

Stick to these 3 tips to make your designs clear, sharp, clutter-free and offer more information. Try out these smart 3 tips on Creately for free and see how creating Org Charts is as easy as peanuts.

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Manage your project better with Org anization Charts

A while back, Indu did three amazing posts on the different types of org charts. While org charts has been the topic of focus this week, we ruminated a bit on how we could use organigrams like never before. True, we did talk about how we could use org charts in an unorthodox manner in our last post, but we wanted to push the envelope a bit further.

You see, there are various tools that are used for project management, which have had varying degrees of success but we thought – Why not form your own customized project management tool using Creately? Confused? Let’s shed some light on this compelling topic.

As our first example, consider two teams of web designers who all report to separate project managers. As a project manager, you would call/phone/email your web designer and divvy up the workload (e.g. to design a wireframe). Make sure you agree on a delivery date and a WIP date as well. Once this is done, using the collaborative features of Creately you can easily see if the tasks are being done. This way you get rid of time wastage and keep track of each team member’s progress without having to invest is a PM tool that is both expensive and is good for just one particular use. Use an organigram (as shown below) to create a customized version of a PM tool relevant to your department alone.

When inside Creately you would click on the blue icon to open up the wireframe / mockup below.

Think that this is probably just a one-off example we cracked our brains at? Think again. Let’s consider a marketing department where you are the boss. You have two executives working for you on various research projects. That big presentation is coming up soon and boy, do you need that Ansoff Matrix and PEST analysis in a hurry. Why not get your executives onto Creately and then collaborate with them. This way you would be aware of who has done what and when. Peruse the example below.

Again clicking on the blue icon, when inside Creately, will open up the PEST diagram.

The aim of this post is to help you think and use Creately from a totally different angle. All it takes is intuitiveness and some innovative thinking to use this smart app anyway you want. We’d be more than glad to offer you more exciting tips on how to use Creately. Plus we’re all eager to know what you think of how we have offered a new spin on things in this post, so please do go ahead and comment. In the meanwhile, stay tuned for some exciting posts from the rest of the Creately team soon!

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How functional structures benefit in bringing clarity into business

Most organizations today spend thousands of dollars on business solutions to manage their business assets, but they sometimes fail to manage the most important asset – the workforce. Understanding the structure of the organization is important, understanding the roles people play, how they interact through formal and informal processes and the relationships they build are crucial to the success of any strategy.

Electrolux Home Products (EHP) as you may know is a global leader in household appliances. They are manufacturers of refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, cookers and air-conditioners. It’s a Swedish multinational company that has grown through acquisitions to become a dominant player in Europe. But the European market is highly competitive and the company had to find ways to cut down on costs and improve product standards to stay ahead of fierce competition.

This is a case study of how Electrolux Home Products Europe used a functional organizational structure to compete in the European market.

Their solution was quite simple yet very strategic in nature. They introduced a Europe-wide functional structure to replace the geographical structure (resulting from its acquisitions).

The new organizational structure had four functions/departments. You can see the org chart below, which will help you visualize the breakdown of EHP’s company structure.


1. Purchasing, Production and Product Development – This department/function was important as it ensured a seamless flow from supplies to finished products.

2. Supply Chain Management and Logistics – This function was responsible for getting the products to the customer and created the association between sales forecasts and factory production.
3. Product Businesses, Brand Management and Key Account Management – This function was involved in all the marketing activities to support products and brands. Also included key account management, service and spare parts functions.
4. Sales clusters – The different sales divisions grouped geographically.

Functional structures always allow for greater operational control at a senior level with clear definition of roles and tasks. This structure is best suited for organizations producing standardized goods and services at large volumes and low cost. Having introduced functional structures, EHP was able to improve operational efficiencies where employees became specialists within their own realm of expertise. The realignment was also helped to ensure profitable growth as the organization brought in more clarity and uniformity into business by creating more focus on areas where increased effort is required to meet the tougher challenges of the market-place.

This is a demonstration of how a functional structure has helped EHP. If you’ve been part of a functional structure or have any interesting stories to share, drop a comment here or contact us.
Source – Exploring Corporate Strategy, 7th Ed – G Johnson K Scholes R
Original Source – Adapted from The Electrolux Executive, December 2000

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5 Reasons why HR Managers love Organizational Charts

HR managers in companies have been using organizational charts for decades to fulfil a very basic but significant function. These managers have used org charts to form the modus operandi of a company, where questions of “Who is Who?” and “Who does What?” are answered. Organizational behavioral experts are aware of the issues that arise when lines are vague when it comes to job roles and responsibilities. Org charts need to be properly used to define the function and role of every single individual in a company so that there is room for accountability.

Additionally, you may also be aware of how org charts are used in collaboration with appraisals and job descriptions. To break it down simply, an org chart is a map as to where exactly you are in an organization. The truth here is that every company has a hierarchy of sorts, even those that claim to be a meritocracy. Paying heed to the following reasons as to why HR Managers love their org charts could help you understand your job role better.

1. Delineate work responsibilities

One of the chief functions of an organigram is to clearly show the allocation of work responsibilities. As any HR Manager who is worth his salt is aware, this is one of his chief responsibilities, which if properly executed leads to the efficient functioning of the company as a whole.

2. Establishing specific tasks

Technically this point may be interlinked with the very first point. One of the many advantages of org charts is that you can break down job responsibilities into specific tasks  as well. For instance, if one of your responsibilities is to conduct quarterly recruitment for executive positions, then one of the specific tasks would be to conduct an initial selection interview in keeping with the company guidelines.

3. Clarify work relationships

Another important function of an org chart is that it helps to clarify the working relationships that exist between an Executive and a Manager. The corporate culture has evolved in varying degrees where traditional reporting lines are not adhered to anymore. For instance, you may have an HR Executive whose job responsibilities include recruitment and training, which are two separate departments. However, in this case, one executive may report to two separate managers as shown below.

4. Establishing hierarchical structure of decision-making and power

Contrary to popular belief, org charts are not relevant to only the lower rung of management (think Executives and Staff Officers) but also to middle or higher management (think Managers, GMs, DCEOs and CEOs) as well. Not to sound melodramatic but using org charts for the sake of transparency could lead to less misunderstandings and friction when it comes to the sharing of power.

5. Provides you an information portal

Whatever your position may be in a company, you are sure to have third-party interactions. Just to highlight a very basic example, if you are a new Management Trainee, you’d probably want to know who you request stationery from, who you would call if your salary gets delayed, where administration is located etc.

Considering all that has been highlighted thus far, you could get quite creative with org charts. There is no reason why you should give into a “cookie cutter” mentality and be orthodox in your ways. Coming up with innovative uses of org charts could very well help you as a HR Manager to create a better roadmap for the company, in terms of roles, responsibilities and staff interaction. Stay tuned for more goodness on org charts. Till then – Keep those diagrams beautiful!

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Organizing for Success [3] : Map out your Organization Structure!

This is the third post in a series on organization structures. Here is a brief outline of what has been discussed so far: In the first post we discussed the simple, functional and the multidivisional organizational structures. The second post followed up with the Holding company structure, Matrix Structure & Team-based structures. Now with the final post in the series, let’s take a look at the Project-based and Network structures.

Project-based Structure

If you’re part of an organization that manages complex products; or deals with high-value industrial products and systems which support the production of goods and services, then this is the ideal structure for you.

A project-based structure is a temporary structure to which resources are assigned to work on a unique and often complex but short-term projects. You will see this type of structure commonly used in private manufacturing companies, it is also deployed in other organizations both public and private, like law firms, consultancy firms, marketing, and the film industry.

Within a project-based structure, the project is the primary business apparatus for conforming and amalgamating all the main business functions (Production, Engineering, Marketing, HR and Finance) of the organization. Because the main business processes are organized within projects rather than functional departments, this structure is an alternative to the matrix structure.

Coordination is an essential function in a project-based structure, as each worker is expected to coordinate and collaborate with other units. Also, the client plays an important role in this type of organization and is involved right throughout the project – from the project initiation to its completion.


Network Structure

This is a complicated structural type which includes the linking of many individual organizations to make their interaction effective in order to achieve a common goal. If you’re running a joint venture to build complex, technical systems like a space shuttle; or if you’re part of the network for a construction company, network structure is the best type.

These structures are more flexible and efficient because they use the best partners available that provide specific needs. However, this structure has some drawbacks as it forces you to rely overly on your partners, resulting in less managerial control.


Organizational structures are critical for a company and its employees. In the long run, organizational structure can spell the difference between success and failure for an organization.

If this series of posts have inspired you to re-design your organisation structure you can start right away with Creately. You don’t have to wait for your management team or HR department to re-arrange the organization structure, using Creately you can create your grand vision showing how to make your organization more streamlined and efficient and then easily share it with the management team and HR department. That’s being proactive!

If you have any comments or feedback on this series please let me know through the comments or email us.

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Organizing for Success [2] : Map out your Organization Structure!

Here we go again – more on org charts! I did walk you through some of the different organization structures in our previous post, if you haven’t seen the post, go read it! And now, I’ll take you through 3 more organization structural types.

The Holding Company Structure

You probably know what a holding company is? However, if you begin to wonder what this is, here’s a little description. Holding company is an investment company consisting of shareholdings in a variety of separate business operations. These business operations may operate independently although they are a part of the parent company.

A holding company structure is based on the idea that the constituent businesses will operate their product strategy to their best potential if left alone, particularly as business environments become more turbulent. This structure may claim benefits, such as the spreading of risk across many business ventures and the ease of divestment of individual companies. Perhaps the greatest weaknesses of this structure are the lack of internal strategic cohesion and duplication of effort between businesses.


The Matrix Structure

This is a combination of structures which could take the form of product and geographical divisions or functional and divisional structures operating in tandem. These may be generally adopted by your managers because there is more than one factor around which knowledge needs to be built whilst ensuring that these separate areas of knowledge can be integrated.

For example, a global company may prefer geographically defined divisions as the operating units for local marketing (because of the specialist local knowledge of customers). But at the same time they may still want global product divisions responsible for the worldwide co-ordination of product development, manufacturing and distribution to these geographical divisions (because of the specialist knowledge of these issues).

Because Matrix structure replaces formal lines of authority with (cross-matrix) relationships, this often brings problems. In particular, it will typically take longer for you to reach decisions since they may result from bargaining rather than imposition. There may be also a good deal of conflict because of the lack of clarity of role definition and responsibility. Perhaps the key ingredient in a successful matrix structure can be achieved by encouraging your senior managers to sustain collaborative relationships (across the matrix) and coping with the messiness and ambiguity which that can bring.


Team-based Structure

This structural type is aimed at using employees from various departments who form a temporary team in order to solve a problem. For example, if you’re running an Information Systems company, you might have development teams, product teams and application teams who are probably responsible for: new product development, service and support of standard products, and customizing products to particular customers (or customer groups) respectively. Now, since each of these teams will have a mix of specialists, you’ll be able to see the issues holistically.

Team-based structures allows every employee in your organization to feel important, feel like they have a voice so they are more motivated to accomplish their tasks. However, this structure has its problems. Team members can tend to be partial to their needs, resulting in more disagreement among the team. This can result in a lot of time wasted. Therefore, this structure may not be the answer for every business or decision-making requirement.


I will not overload you with too much information. I’ll save the rest for another post! So hope to see you soon with the a little more on organization structures. And, as always share your feedback and ideas. We’re listening!

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Organizing for Success [1] : Map out your Organization Structure!

Perhaps the most important resource of an organization is its people. So the role people play, how they interact through formal and informal processes and the relationships that they build are crucial to the success of any strategy. If your manager was asked to describe your organization, he would probably respond by drawing an org chart, to map out its structure.

But why does an organization need a structure? This is important because it gives a clear picture of the reporting lines and helps you understand who you should report to. Also, by having clear reporting lines it makes it easy for you to have more control over the resources. Organization structure is more like the backbone of an organization’s culture, it therefore can directly affect employee behaviour, performance and motivation. Therefore, having a structure in your organization is important rather than leaving it carelessly managed with no clear structure.

Organization Structural Types

Having an effective organizational structure in place can increase productivity, improve operating costs and employee satisfaction. This will allow you to identify the positions within an organization, determine who manages which departments and define individual job levels and roles in the organization. Lets go through some of the basic structural types. This will help you understand how each organization structure fits in to the business environment and the strengths and weaknesses of each structure.

The Simple Structure

This is no formal structure at all, just typical of an organization run by the personal control of an individual. It is commonly the way in which very small businesses operate. There may be an owner who undertakes most of the responsibilities of management, perhaps with a partner or an assistant. However, there is little division of responsibility, and probably little clear definition of who is responsible for what if there is more than one person involved.

The main problem here is that the organization can operate effectively only up to a certain size, beyond which it becomes too cumbersome and time consuming for one person to control alone.


The Functional Structure

This is typically found in companies with narrow, rather than diverse, product ranges. It allows greater operational control at a senior level; and linked to this is the clear definition of roles and tasks. For instance, the marketing department would be staffed only with marketers responsible for the marketing of the company’s products.

This specialization leads to operational efficiencies where employees become specialists within their own realm of expertise. It’s best suited for organizations producing standardized goods and services at large volumes and low cost. The most typical problem with this structure is however that communication within the company can be rather rigid, making the organization slow and inflexible. Therefore, functional structures may be considered most effective for organizations operating in rather stable environments.


The Multidivisional Structure

Divisionalization is considered as a solution to overcome the problems that functional structures have in dealing with responsibility and business diversity. Divisionalization allows a tailoring of the product strategy to the requirements of each separate division and can improve the ownership of the strategy by divisional staff.

Unlike the functional organizational structure, this focuses on a higher degree of specialization within a specific division, so that divisions are given the resources and autonomy, to react to changes in their specific business environment. Therefore, each division often has all the necessary resources and functions within it to satisfy the demands put on the division. In practice, however a multidivisional structure has problems, like conflict between departments which is common due to internal competition and differences in values and expectations. It’s also more expensive to operate and manage because each division is considered its own entity and some functions are duplicated.


Although it can be hard to determine when your current organizational structure isn’t working, especially if you do not have a high level view of the structure, effort should be made to identify if your business has grown beyond its current structure or organizational design. When the structure isn’t working it leads to inefficiencies and wastage as well as possible internal conflicts. If you identify these sorts of problems it may be time to rethink your structure and move toward a better company structure.

Having looked at a few organization structures today, watch this space for more on the same topic to follow soon. In the meantime, please do let us know if you have any questions/suggestions, we are more than happy to help you.

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3 reasons why you should quit writing (well, sort of)

Whatever opinion you may have of Napoleon Bonaparte, the emperor did once say “Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu’un long discours,” or “A good sketch is better than a long speech”. We’re inclined to agree. I mean what do you prefer “reading”, this or this?

To drive this point home a bit further, we’ve pinpointed 3 reasons why you would do better by drawing the curtain (or turning the page) on writing for good. 1. Get lost with diagrams? Never!

Ask yourself – “Do I really have the time of day to understand yards of data or would I prefer a simple flowchart diagram instead?”


2. Diagramming is faster

How confusing is this? It makes better sense to make an organizational chart within minutes.


3. Clarity means diagamming

We’ve all done brainstorming on pages and pages of docs and emails. Confusion reigns in those instances. This is precisely why intelligent people brainstorm using mindmaps because information is far easier to assimilate.


So there’s our case for diagramming. In an era when people have less patience, less time and a love for clarity, diagramming does supersede writing in every way. If you feel we’ve given you a strong urge to doodle, then you can do so with us.


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