Traditionally, in many product companies, a few senior people at the “top” did most of the “creative” thinking/planning and the majority of the workers actually just follow their directions to build the products or deliver the services decided by the creative types.
This style of centrally managed Cathedral model management where each successive layer of management informes the next level down is rapidly falling apart. More and more companies are moving towards a flatter organization. Towards a Bazaar model. This is true since more and more people are doing the cognitive work rather than manual work. Smarter workforces needs empowerment and hence need fewer managers and fewer levels between themselves and the “boss”. They demand the cognition be distributed and people on the ground make decision close to the context.
To some extent, the open source model has paved the way for this style of org. structure in the software world. Also various collaboration and social interaction tools have emerged over the last decade which really help to scale a flat organization.
It will be interesting to watch how giant companies will structure themselves to compete with the Start-ups.