Hierarchies are much maligned these days and self-management is all the rage in the digital media. However, hierarchies exist in multiple forms. Modern organizations rightly strive to not have a strict communication hierarchy. But like it or not, there is still going to be a decision making hierarchy regardless of whether the reporting hierarchy (span of control) is flat or deep. The real challenge then, is to make the decision making hierarchy (and its deliberations) sufficiently transparent and inclusive.
All big organizations, even so-called “flat” or “networked” ones, are usually quite hierarchical when it comes to decision making. Any talk of Holacracy, Teal etc. is unrealistic in these places. The underlying problem is not hierarchy itself but the opaqueness of decision making which is known to persist even in the absence of a formal hierarchy.
Cleararchy is a way to bring transparency, and thereby accountability and learnability, to decision making. This is necessary for decentralized decision making and true empowerment at lower levels of a big organization.
Cleararchy replaces the traditional hierarchy of oversight with a hierarchy of outcome-ownership. Outcome owners are held accountable for decisions and outcomes in exchange for autonomy and authority. Outcome owners have decision rights and their teams (and others) have input rights. Input rights are made meaningful through the use of decision records. The autonomy of outcome owners isn't absolute. It may be overridden by owners of higher-level outcomes. It is also kept in check through the use of devices such as alignment maps.
Cleararchy is most suitable in situations where fast moving, autonomous, outcome-oriented organization is highly desirable. This is the case, for example, for today’s digital, product and engineering/tech/IT organizations.