Your Organization Mode: Plantation or Rainforest?

Agile Innovation Labs
2 min readNov 15, 2022


Photo by Paul-Vincent Roll on Unsplash

When it comes to how organizations are set up and how they act, there are different schools of thought. Most of the time, companies end up in either a plantation or a rainforest.

Plantation mode is characterized by centralized decision-making, hierarchical power structures, and an emphasis on efficiency and productivity, and, to some extent, a focus on conformity, governance, and compliance.

Rainforest mode, on the other hand, is defined by decentralized decision-making, autonomy mode, flat power structures, team-based, and a focus on creativity and innovation as well as focus on horizontal networks and relying on a guiding principle in their daily activities.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both modes. Plantations are good at scaling quickly and efficiently producing results. But they often stifle creativity and innovation. Rainforests, on the other hand, are great at incubating new ideas, but they can be chaotic and inefficient.

The challenge, of course, is that most organizations live in both modes simultaneously. It’s not only a straightforward way to bring it into an organization’s daily lives, but it’s essential for long-term success and growth.

However, most likely, the creative and innovative parts of organizations, are in condition either suppressed or completely dormant, but they’re always there. And, it is the right time for the leaders to activate and ignite the rainforest mode. Leaders need to encourage experimentation and risk-taking in small new ideas, moreover also need to create a way of protecting them long enough so that they can develop and prove their value and relevance to the big picture view of the organization.

What do you think? Is your organization a plantation or a rainforest? Or something in between?

Written by Arief Mustain — Digital Explorer & Innovation Enthusiast