Approaches and Methods

The key area of approaches & methods includes the ‘how’ of organisation design. How can an organisation design project be structured and what are possible approaches the designer can take.


Naomi Stanford
Guide to Organisation Design: Creating high-performing and adaptable enterprises (Second Edition)
The Economist / Profile Books, 2015

A comprehensive, accessible and practical overview of the basics of organisation design, with a focus on the steps to be taken in an organisation design project.

Richard Burton, Børge Obel, Dorthe Døjbak Håkonsson
Organizational Design: A Step-by-Step Approach (Third Edition)
Cambridge University Press, 2015

This book describes a practical approach for organisation design – based in a sound theoretical foundation – moving through a series of steps that cover all basic aspects such as configuration, knowledge exchange and coordination & control. Each aspect is captured in a clear 2 x 2 graph.

Gregory Kesler & Amy Kates
Leading Organization Design: How to make organization design decisions to drive the results you want
Jossey-Bass, 2011

This book provides a guide for business leaders and OD professionals. The organsation design approach and tools examined have become the standard internal design methodology used in dozens of major corporations around the world.

Nicolay Worren
Organisation Design: Re-Defining Complex Systems (Third Edition)
Pearson, 2012

The central message of this book is that organisation design is part of every manager and leader’s job. It begins by identifying key concepts and ideas that serve as a foundation to understanding how theory informs practice. It examines the status of organisation design – as a field of research and practical discipline – its contribution to performance outcomes, and some of its challenges and limitations. It then considers how the field can develop to ensure it provides research-based and useful knowledge that contributes to better organisational outcomes.

Barbara Benedict Bunker & Billie T. Alban
Large Group Interventions: Engaging the Whole System for Rapid Change
Jossey-Bass, 1996

This book provides an in-depth overview of twelve of the most useful methods of large group interventions in use today. This comprehensive guide outlines the methods’ origins, investigates their similarities and differences, and presents rich examples and case studies of each intervention method in action.


T. Brown (2008) ‘Design Thinking’, Harvard Business Review, 86, 6, 84-92.

Classic HBR article in which Tim Brown (CEO of design firm IDEO) sets forth his ideas on design thinking: using the principles of design in the context of organisations, their processes and services.

J. Kolko (2015), ‘Design Thinking Comes of Age’, Harvard Business Review, September 2015.

Recent update on the evolution of design thinking, which returns to the Tim Brown’s original ideas.

N. Worren (2011), ‘Hitting the Sweet Spot Between Separation and Integration in Organization Design’, People & Strategy, 34, 4, 24-30.

Making the case for organsitional leaders to use analytical tools to improve the design process, this article outlines an innovative approach that allows managers to make fact-based decisions about organisation design to reduce the risk of making incorrect choices with regard to the separation or integration of organisational roles, units or process.

E. von Hippel  (1990), ‘Task Partitioning: An Innovation Process Variable’, Research Policy, 19, 5, 407-418.

Innovation projects are “partitioned” into smaller tasks. Precisely where the boundaries between such tasks are placed can impact project outcomes and the efficiency of task performance because of as associated changes in the problem-solving inter-dependence among tasks. The potential value of studying and managing task partitioning is illustrated in this seminal study.

S. Ghoshal & N. Nohria  (1993), ‘Horses for Courses: Organizational Forms for Multinational Corporations ’, Sloan Management Review, Winter 1993.

Managers and leaders need a comprehensive understanding of their organisation’s environmental demands to evaluate the type of organisational capabilities they need to develop. Unnecessary organisational complexity in a relatively simple business environment can be just as unproductive as unresponsive simplicity in a complex environment. This study puts forward a useful method for evaluating these environmental courses and for selecting the appropriate organisational “horses”.

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