OS - Organisation Design

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Approach and Toolkit

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OS - Organisation Design

When organisations are effectively designed, the roles within it are full and complete so provide the necessary opportunity for unambiguous accountabilities to be established, which stretch individuals and enable them to apply all their skills and behavioural competencies. They can clearly see how their accountabilities contribute to the overall aims of the organisation. Their accountabilities are distinct but contributory to their boss’ and - if they manage people – to their direct reports. They can see how their roles relate laterally to others within the organisation. As a result, work is not overlooked nor is it duplicated. Fundamentally, within the structure, managers accept it is they who are accountable for the performance of their team members. Literally, in this respect, the ‘buck stops here’.

When an organisation is poorly designed, people can often feel ‘squashed’ because there is insufficient headroom to their boss – they don’t have any real discretion to make decisions. In Climate terms, there is lack of Autonomy and limited Involvement. Conversely, ineffective designs can result in people feeling isolated as they are too distant from their boss or their peers. Very often in these circumstances, things get overlooked and mistakes are made resulting in resources being wasted on putting things right that have been done wrongly.

Too often, structure is seen as the main reason people say they are not motivated. Structure is the foundation on which a Climate can be built that enables people to fulfil their potential. Alfred Sloan, the founder of General Motors in the 1920s remarked that “Structure follows Strategy”. It is a crucial aspect of organisations being successful or not. Unfortunately, designing organisations often seems to be conducted by ‘doodling’ on a sheet of paper. There is no rational interpretation, which means changing the organisation’s design is as effective as ‘moving round the deckchairs to prevent theTitantic hitting the iceberg’. The collision is inevitable!

Our approach looks at structure and job design in terms of work levels and associated role complexity. This is based on Elliott Jaques’ lifetime’s work. Jaques’ ‘Requisite’ design principles cuts through power politics, status and biases that are ingrained in most organisations’ ineffectual designs. The Requisite principles ensures the appropriate hierarchies are created so that people can work together in the spirit of mutual trust, each using their skills and competencies to the fullest extent. Everyone in the organisation knows what is expected of them. There is a sense of everybody knowing ‘which way is up’, i.e. they know what the organisation aims to achieve and how their role and they as role-holder contribute.

Our approach to evaluating organisations’ structures and proposing alternative, more effective designs combines our powerful diagnostic measurement and highly impactful software, which visibly and irrefutably demonstrates where there are structural weaknesses. Our approach to diagnosing organisational design efficiency and establishing alternative designs can, after a short-period of training, be fully integrated into an organisation’s HR function. This significantly dilutes dependency on our long-term consultancy, which means lower costs to maintain an organisation’s design at peak efficiency.

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Tel: +44 (0)1206 710945
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