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6 current themes in organisation design

by Steve Arrow on 17 Aug 2017
The 6 current themes in organisational design

Over the past few months I have seen an influx of requirements from clients who are looking for individuals with strong organisation design skills. The ability to apply various organisation design approaches is an invaluable resource for businesses as they look to keep up with the accelerating pace of strategic change and align their structure appropriately.

So, as businesses look at bringing in external capability to adapt and transform their target operating models, these are the most common themes that I've found emerging. 

1) Not just a theoretical approach

Work in the area of organisation design is complex and requires a high level of conceptual understanding. So it goes without saying that deep technical skills are an absolute must. However, organisations are also increasingly placing high value on a candidate's practical experience and are tending to veer away from individuals who can only demonstrate a high level theoretical approach to organisation design.

2) Being part of the whole change journey

The ability to demonstrate you can implement what you've designed is extremely valued, as it shows you can bring a more practical approach to the design phase, which in turn means greater likelihood of success.

Not all organisations have the desire, budget or level of internal transformation maturity to implement best practice models, so the ability to truly understand the organisation’s unique strategic aims, and to be able to design a fit-for-purpose model to support those goals, is vital.

3) The thinking, as well as the doing

The ability to flex up and down the strategic spectrum is also important; therefore hands on experience delivering change is going to be highly valued. Being able to work alongside senior leaders to understand their vision is also crucial. At the same time, there is also a desire for individuals to get involved in the detail when it's required.

4) Transfer of knowledge

A key attribute of being an interim is the ability to implement organisation design and change with an organisation not to it. Bringing in interims with specialist skills for focused periods of time makes a lot of sense and can assist companies in reaching their end goals more quickly and efficiently. Crucially too, organisations are keen to upskill their internal people in these specialist areas and to build internal capability, so they can continue to evolve without the constant need to bring in external help.

5) Ability to work across functions

Deep expertise in particular functional areas can provide valuable insight into more detailed organisation design work. However, the ability to also "connect the dots" and to possess an understanding of interdependencies across functions is another key factor in influencing a company's hiring decisions.

6) Consulting vs in-house experience of organisation design

There's no doubt individuals coming out of consulting firms have great technical expertise. Technical knowledge is highly valued by clients and, in fact, is the essential criteria for some organisations.

Ideally though, consulting experience combined with a period of time in-house (via an interim assignment or permanent role) is often seen by hiring managers as the best of both worlds.

There can be a perception that individuals straight out of consulting can take longer to adjust to corporate approaches and that they sometimes struggle not to "think" like a consultant. So in-house experience can be an invaluable asset.

Many organisations also take a blended model approach to their organisation design team, using a mix of ex-consultants and people who have come up through internal functional areas such as HR or finance to ensure they maintain a balanced view.

As the landscape continues to shift, businesses need to adapt or risk falling behind. A large part of being able to successfully undertake the necessary operational changes to keep pace is being able to redesign the organisation to support those changes.

How to approach your business transformation

Topics: business transformation, change management

Steve Arrow

Written by Steve Arrow

Director, HR and Business Transformation at BIE Executive