Most academic research labs do not have any (official) structure. This makes sense since scientists do their best work when they are as unconstrained as possible and any sign of hierarchy decreases creativity and innovation. I get that. But when we started to have more than 20 lab members, I did find it essential to delegate certain mentoring/oversight role and to organize the lab.
So we decided to organize the lab into three teams: target identification (role of oscillations in behavior and psychiatric symptoms, systems and cognitive neuroscience), target engagement (how to brain activity patterns respond to stimulation, enhance temporal and spatial targeting, computational neuroscience, in vitro experiments), and target validation (clinical trials to see if our new brain stimulation paradigms actually help to change lives!). There is no "classical hierarchy" but each team has one postdoc who takes the role of the team facilitator. They help mentor team members and organize a weekly meeting of the team at which I am on purpose not present. Just because ideas will flow more freely and people will be less nervous when I am not there. Hate those facts but that is part of being a PI. I meet with the team facilitators every week to discuss what issues have come up and require my attention.
We have implemented this change few months ago and overall things are going really well. I have more time to focus on scientific and mentoring challenges and at the same time I have empowered the lab to be a team of awesome scientists even when I am not present! I will do my usual annual anonymous survey at the end of the year and will offer a follow up post on how this reorganization is perceived by the lab members.
Here is my slide on how the lab and our science is organized. The pictures are stock photos from shutterstock.com.