Putting our insights to good use, our bite-sized blogs give leaders our latest thinking on strategy, organisation design, executive team development and culture change as well as other musings.


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Strategy, Organisation Design and HR Leaders: Don’t get relegated to comms, culture and clearing up

Strategy, Organisation Design and HR Leaders: Don’t get relegated to comms, culture and clearing up


Beginning in June 2023, we ran a series of sessions to investigate the separation between ‘suits’ (strategy and organisation design) and ‘cardigans’ (organisation development and change). What are the implications of this separation for HR professionals? These leaders all too often get relegated to doing the three Cs: comms, culture and clearing up.

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Does team size matter?

Does team size matter?


Over the years we have been asked to coach leadership teams that are not performing or living up to their potential.  It’s not uncommon to find that the team is simply too large.  What is required is not (just) team coaching but team design. But …. how small is too small and how big is too big? Well, it depends! An annoying answer we know, but it happens to be true in this case. We thought it would be helpful in this post to say more than “it depends”, and to offer practitioners a way of thinking about a possible response

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Bring the “suits” and “cardigans” together from the start…

Bring the “suits” and “cardigans” together from the start…


Have you ever looked at what was going on in your organisation and thought it just wasn’t working well enough?Performance not where it needs to be, targets not met, staff survey results getting worse, difficulty...

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Materialising the Project Matrix: 7 questions to set your new project matrix organisation design up for success

Materialising the Project Matrix: 7 questions to set your new project matrix organisation design up for success


Designing a project matrix organization requires clarity and agreement on key management roles. This post offers 7 questions to help develop clarity and agreement.

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The problem with contracting: how to get it less wrong

The problem with contracting: how to get it less wrong


While we’re all pretty well versed in contracting on tasks, deliverables and outcomes we’re much less comfortable with contracting around roles. And yet, in the absence of a good enough contracting, we are often left flailing, trying to find a safe place to work from, keen to deliver on the task we’ve signed up to, but ill-equipped to do so. Of course, contracting on roles typically requires an honest conversation about what’s needed, what each of us might be up for, and what’s possible in the current context, given power, politics, organisational culture, history and a whole load of other fun stuff.

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Starting your Re-design Process? Ask the Audience!

Starting your Re-design Process? Ask the Audience!


So, you've decided to embark on an organisation re-design – what next? Well, you are going to need to decide on a design team  to create a design, and they will need data, input and perspectives to work with.  So you although you, like many of our clients, might like to jump straight to the answer, you will need an inquiry/discovery process, which involves asking people for their perspectives and input into the current state and what could be improved. In this blog we explain why you need to interview people, who and how many to speak to, and what you should ask them.

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How did we get back here, again?

How did we get back here, again?


The anthropologist Gregory Bateson’s phrase “the difference that makes a difference” has a powerful and intuitive resonance.   He was talking about how a ‘difference’ can represent information that helps us see a situation from a different angle.  This can reveal new possibilities for understanding or acting. Bateson’s idea draws attention to how in a complex system a small change or shift can have a ripple effect, bringing about other shifts and changes. Even subtle differences or changes can lead to profound shifts.   

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Thinking partners and the art of micro-interventions

Thinking partners and the art of micro-interventions


As we all continue to come to terms with ‘hybrid’ ways of working, it inevitably means that we should adapt the way we enable transformation and change in organisational life. Getting colleagues – who have become even more dispersed and time poor -   to collaborate across role and departmental boundaries has become even more challenging.  In our experience, it has profound implications too for the role of consultants.

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Ready for re-design in 2023?

Ready for re-design in 2023?


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.

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Can you NOT communicate?

Can you NOT communicate?


I recently re-read Paul Watzlawick’s classic book Pragmatics of Human Communication. For those of you who don’t know his work, many of his ideas have influenced paradoxical theories of change and family systems theory. In the book he outlines a number of principles of human communication. We can argue that much of what happens in organisations is communication. Underneath the  labels such of  ‘leadership’, ‘strategy’, ‘change’, ‘structure’, ‘culture’ are in fact patterns of communication.

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Designing with users – are you flushed with success or going down the pan?

Designing with users – are you flushed with success or going down the pan?


It started with Bella. Bella cleans the toilets and public areas in a hotel that is undergoing prolonged refurbishment and where I was fortunate to stay recently.

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Do you do resilience and well-being work?

Do you do resilience and well-being work?


I was asked this twice last week by two of the least fluffy senior male execs I know. I imagine the question arose because many people close them are struggling. Knowing them as I do, they want to care for and support individuals. They also will be noticing that this isn’t just one or two individuals and that something is happening that is more systemic.

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Embracing Ambivalence

Embracing Ambivalence


We were witnessing a scenario where an executive team had decided on a change of strategic direction that would affect every division. For many it meant a change of priorities and a need to reset budgets. What needed to happen, and the key communication messages were summarised before the meeting closed.

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Are you about to step into an organisation design bear-trap?

Are you about to step into an organisation design bear-trap?


Many of us have experienced organisation re-design processes that have destroyed trust and value in the organisations in which we work (some of us have even been responsible for them). When things go wrong, it’s often down to misguided assumptions about what’s needed.

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The Unspoken Life of Executive Teams

The Unspoken Life of Executive Teams


We all have opinions about our leaders. Be it on what they are doing effectively, ineffectively, or not doing at all. Some of these views are based on first-hand experience and thought-through judgements whilst others reflect projections, prejudices, or unrealistic ideals.

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Culture change – lessons from the field

Culture change – lessons from the field


Most of our clients are engaged in attempts to develop or change their culture in some way, shape or form. They tend however to tell us they find such initiatives to be tricky, demanding and, ultimately, disappointing. To understand why this is the case, we have been inquiring with leaders and OD practitioners into their experience of trying to change culture.

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What’s the story of Orgwith?

What’s the story of Orgwith?


"I know you can do organization re-design in face-to-face workshops but our team is locked down on two sides of the Atlantic and we’re in a hurry. Can you still help us with this?" Gulp…Keep calm. In the few seconds we have to answer, the following thoughts go through our heads...

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Any old change model will do

Any old change model will do


In the "University of Heathrow" (as an esteemed academic colleague of ours refers to it), waiting for a flight to the current round of difficult meetings, it's easy to get tempted into buying the latest expensive, glossy book promising the secrets of leading successful change. Full of case studies illustrating the successes of improbably wise and prescient leaders, not to mention

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Changing the Bed Sheets

Changing the Bed Sheets


It’s early May and I’m just back from working in Devon. For each of the last 7 years I've been running an annual workshop on ecological thinking and organisational change at Schumacher College, a few miles outside the town of Totnes.

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There’s no sexism here right?

There’s no sexism here right?


So started the day. “We saw a pretty girl.” It’s been a long time coming. A company going through a radical transformation – a real one – where the way they work together, talk to each other, share information and make decisions is actually visibly changing.

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Form Follows Function

Form Follows Function


When a senior leader realises that their organisation is not performing well, or well enough, they often commission a redesign, and task a small design group to start thinking about how they could be better organised. The temptation for the design team is to start tinkering with org charts, add in new roles to bridge perceived gaps, and identify savings and synergies.

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