Designing Organisations in the 21st CenturyBlog

Journals, blogs and articles are ablaze with facts, figures and stories of how today’s organisations are going through a fundamental change. Whether it’s the increasing complexity and rate of change in your industry; how big data will provide new insights to customer needs and employee behaviours to improve the efficiency and efficacy of work processes; or how the next generation of workers has a hugely different set of work expectations than prior generations, the pressures are everywhere. Organisational leaders and organisation design practitioners need to understand the implications of these drivers on their organisations. We love our iphones, cars and shoes as they are consciously designed to fulfill our needs and expectations; how much more should our organisations be consciously, systematically and holistically designed to fulfill the needs and expectations of our customers, employees and shareholders? The insights below have been identified by some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in organisation design that organisations need to be aware of in the 21st Century:

Strategy – Aligning the organisation to it strategy remains critical, true alignment strives to ensure that all parts of the organization are working in sync to achieve the strategy. Global thinking and local actions are aligned.
Structure – Organisations will need to be both stable i.e. resilient in delivering excellence AND dynamic i.e. sensing and rapidly adapting to changing needs in the market. Structurally, teams still need clear accountabilities for delivering whole pieces of work but will increasingly work in multidisciplinary, agile teams across time zones and geography.
Process – The Digital Agenda will change the way organisations make decisions, going from subjective intuition to data-based and distributed decision making. Increasing use of algorithms and AI will increase efficiencies but will fundamentally change the shape of work.
Rewards – Meaningful work and associated meaningful rewards will be more important than pay alone.
People – Collaboration and workplace democracy will be increasingly important, the workforce age range will broaden as people retire later, and leaders will need to cope with and increasing manage ambiguity e.g. doing the day job AND creating the future organisation.

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