Organizational Design is a new and evolving field. This page is an attempt to articulate how organizational design works and provide resources to learn more. My hope is that this handy guide will help you understand organizational design. Many of these resources have been collected from other sources, as noted. 

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What is organizational design?

It's helping organizations shape the conditions that influence how employees experience their work. We do this through shaping culture, structures, processes, talent, and incentives. Here’s a good definition from Fast Company (scroll down to the bottom of the article): “The org chart of the future isn't going to be the same as the org chart of the past. That's why IDEO partner Bryan Walker thinks dedicated organization designers will be on hand, helping make companies more "adaptive, creative, and prolific." These designers, he says, "will help reimagine all aspects of an organization from its underlying structures, incentives, processes, and talent practices to its physical workplaces, digital collaboration tools and communications."


What skills and experience do you need for organizational design?

A balance of real-world experience and theory, a passion for challenging old-school human capital, and experience working with clients or within an organization on these issues.


What do organizational designers do every day?

When we design for and with clients, we:

  • Think creatively to design organizational solutions that enable new innovations to go to market through our client’s people.
  • Help clients rethink their organizational purpose and values and work with design teams to express it in a compelling way.

When we enable clients to design for themselves, we:

  • Leverage our tools and knowledge to support clients in to make changes in their own organization.

  • Do research and observations of an organization and understand its working dynamics to surface insights
  • Track the latest trends and edge thinking about the future of work and organizational design and apply this knowledge to related challenges.  (e.g. Organizational Design, Training & Development, Organizational Psychology, Change Management, Organization Development and HR)
  • Navigate client organizations, including the C-Suite, to assess readiness for change, facilitate key decisions making, and advise on how to successfully implement projects and change management activities
  • Generate design solutions that best address strategic and organizational issues
  • Shape strategy and weave together insights and recommendations into a clear actionable plan for our clients

What do organizational designers do on projects?


IDEO’s Design for Change studioAugustNOB.LThe ReadyMedianPOST*SHIFT (in UK), Frog (good article about their approach here)

More specific firms: Life Labs (focuses on workplace training and skills) PRINT (in UK- focuses on improving team productivity)

Human capital consulting: McKinsey, Ernst & Young, Deloitte

Here is another article about what future org design firms should look like (from Sam Spurlin at The Ready).

 

What consulting firms are doing org design work?


This work can also be done internally within organizations Innovation labs, such as Capital One Labs, or within People Operations, Talent and HR department, such as Google's People Operations.

You can also find Organizational Behavior departments in business schools (I worked at Harvard Business School as a research associate in their organizational behavior unit).

Professor Ethan Bernstein at Harvard Business School started an Organizational Lab to help businesses solve operational problems by changing the way their company is organized. Read more about it on Medium here and at HBS here.

 

Where else do organizational designers work?


Have more questions? Suggestions? Resources? I'd love to hear from you. Email info at mollieawest dot com