Why organisation design matters now

Posted — Wednesday 09.09.2021

The pandemic has led to businesses fully acknowledging that answers to uncertainty cannot be found in management theory. Leaders’ automatic reaction to uncertainty is to offer answers or pretend there is no uncertainty. Now is the time to embark on an organisational design review of your business.

Organisation design is not reorganisation in which we change job titles, job descriptions and produce new structure charts. Organisation design is broken down into systems, skills and strategy.


How many times have you asked members of your leadership team what the direction of the business is for the next 12 months and had a variety of differing responses? Now, more than ever, leaders need to be joined up and consistent in communicating the direction of the business as employees are seeking an element of certainty and confidence. 

You may have identified new challenges or opportunities, so you may be aligning your overall business strategy. You may have also decided to design more innovation, and forward-looking policies and strategies.

Good organisational design will focus on alignment. 

Skills and Competencies:

As your business strategy has adapted, you may require new competencies and skills to ensure the delivery of your business plan. As leaders, there are three fundamental skills (Eoyang & Holladay) that will support you in working in a world of uncertainty:

1.     Stand to Enquire – rather than having answers as so many leaders feel they should always have, ask honest, authentic, clear, open questions. Ensure that you turn off any judgements, conflict, defensiveness and assumptions, and frame inquiring questions. 

2.     Learn in Action – when we know what we know, we draw on theory. However, when changes occur, theory has not kept up, so there is nothing to help you as leaders. Consider asking “what”, “so what”, and “now what”. For example, what is possible, what do I see, so what are the implications, so what is the importance, so what are my options, and now what am I going to do?

3.     Spot Patterns – see, understand and influence patterns. Ask, “are there any boundaries?”, “what differences make a difference?” and “what’s connected and what’s not?” You may recall a connection you had five years ago that made a big difference to the delivery of your business plan is relevant again now. 

Beyond considering the competencies of your leaders, also identify the newly required skills and competencies required from your wider workforce. The future will, no doubt, require a different set of competencies for your businesses to thrive.

Systems and Culture: 

Organisation design looks at what systems and processes your business has in place and ways in which to standardise. 

Standardisation doesn’t need to constrain your business, as some cynics will believe; instead, it enables clear levels of governance. By having clear policies and procedures, you are forging clear levels of autonomy and empowerment. Often, systems that have blurred boundaries generate uncertainty. Scorecards, dashboards and KPIs are all means to control and focus uncertainties. 

Research indicates that organisation design is a powerful way to position business for sustainability and significantly impact on your competitive advantage. It enables businesses to adapt and thrive in turbulent change so that they won’t be swept away by the forces they face. 

If you would a discussion regarding organisation design, please get in touch to arrange a free, confidential 60-minute business consultation. Email: mj@pcwconsultinggroup.com.  

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