Ready for re-design in 2023?

Organisation Design

by Sophy Pern

21 December, 2022

It’s the time of year when we look back and make sense of the work we’ve been doing with the benefit of a bit more perspective. Much of our focus this year has been on helping organisations more purposefully organise so they can better achieve their goals.

It’s likely that the need for restructuring and re-designing will only increase in 2023. If you think this might be in your in-tray in the new year, you might like to add our practitioner research into organisation design to your Christmas reading list.

For those pressed for time, here are the key findings – the perfect accompaniment to a mince pie or two…

1.     Organisations avoid addressing organisation design issues and problems until forced to:  a crisis and / or a change in leader frequently precedes the start of organisation design initiatives. Designing proactively to adapt to emerging changes is becoming more critical to the health and success of organisations.

2.     Given the pace of change, participation is all: organisations are having to adapt their designs at speed.  The process is messier and more emergent than in the past and one redesign is rarely finished before the next one starts. Involving the right people to maintain trust in the process and help make the best choices possible is essential.

3.     Organisation design is a technical, social and political process: as soon as leaders start conversations about organisation design expectations, anxieties and fears arise.   All changes in design require people to give up something and establish new routines. Good design needs to balance technical and human needs, and leaders need to attend to both the rational-technical aspects of organising and the social system.

4.     The design process needs to balance rigour and creativity: design decisions often involve complex trade-offs. A rigorous process can provide a container for anxiety and a space for generative thinking. Without this there is a risk that groups jump to comfortable or political solutions rather than designing for what the strategy requires.

5.     Transitions are culturally symbolic and demand time, attention and resource: how the transition process is undertaken influences people’s commitment to the new design, the quality of relationships across the organisation, and ultimately whether the new design delivers its strategic aims. Culture-creating moments need to be carefully thought about; and individuals and teams need support to take up new roles, renegotiate relationships and change how they work together.

6.     Design is becoming a core leadership skill: much as we would sometimes like it to be “finished”, designing is an ongoing activity for leaders. Planning and adapting the design process, the design itself, and transition and implementation, all require ongoing attention, facilitation and leadership.

We hope you enjoyed the mince pie sized list, and for those who are still a little peckish, you can download the full report here:

Wishing you all a good break when you get to it, and if you’d like to pick up a conversation in the new year, do get in touch:

Ready for re-design in 2023?

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