Newsletter Archive

Our newsletter archive is a collection of articles, blogs, videos, reports, and books. In it, you will find material that previously featured in our monthly curated content newsletter organised by topic area, such as agile organisation design, holacracy, re-organisation and re-design, change management and leadership. Newsletters can also be found ordered by date of publication here.


Agile Organisation Designs Holacracy Re-organisation & Re-design Change Management Strategy & Leadership Collaboration, Decision-Making & Job Design Structure & Operation Model HRM, Culture & Organisational Development Emerging Trends


Agile Oganisation Designs

This theme examines agile working practices from an organisation design perspective. It explores agile working practices across a range of context and at various stages of maturity in large and small organisations.


Aaron De Smet et al.
Leading agile transformation 
McKinsey & Company, October 2018

For many organisations, thriving in today’s competitive economic environment depends on making a fundamental transformation to become more agile. This article provides a summary of McKinsey & Company’s recently published guide for agile transformations. It suggests that more than any other factor, the key to a successful agile transformation is for leaders, particularly senior leaders, to develop new mind-sets and capabilities.


Darrell Rigby, Simon Henderson, and Marco D’Avinol
How agile teams can help turnarounds succeed 
Harvard Business Review, July 2018

This article describes the experience of a global engineering firm in the oil and gas sector that used agile practices to increase the level of speed and accountability in a business turnaround. It outlines that agile turnaround leaders typically take five key actions: (1) communicate strategic ambition to a broad range of people, (2) serve as coaches, (3) strengthen lines of communication between teams, (4) accelerate learning loops, and (5) shift measurement and rewards systems to larger teams.


Darrell Rigby, Jeff Sutherland and Andy Noble
Agile at scale 
Harvard Business Review, May 2018

It is argued that agile teams are best suited to innovation—that is, the profitable application of creativity to improve products and services, processes, or business models. This article investigates a number of factors that should be considered by leaders when attempted to embed agile working practice. It draws on the experience of studying the scaling up of agile at hundreds of organisations, including small firms that run the entire enterprise with agile methods, and larger companies making the transition from traditional hierarchies to more-agile enterprises.

Maria Guadalupe
Three ways to make your organization agile 
INSEAD Knowledge, April 2018

Agile describes the way organisations are created around flexible, customer-focused and often self-managed teams, empowering employees to make decisions. This article discuss Agile and focuses on the ING’s journey to a new way of working. It also includes a video (11 minutes) on transforming large organisations using Agile methodology.

Ben Linders
Q&A on the book Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space & Sociocracy
InfoQ, March 2018

This article reports on an interview with authors Jutta Eckstein and John Buck on their new book that brings together a collection of frameworks designed to address the challenge today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environment implies. The interview covers the challenges of implementing agile practices, the advantages and disadvantages of consent decision, and how Sociocracy can support company-wide agility.


Wouter Aghina at al.
The five trademarks of agile organizations
McKinsey & Company, January 2018

Today’s environment is shaping organisations to become agile. In response, a new “agile” organisation is emerging that exhibits these five characteristics: (1) strategy, (2) structure, (3) process, (4) people, and (5) technology. Research shows that true agility comes only when all five are in place, working together and supported by fundamental shifts in the “mind-sets” of the people in these organisations. This report describes these characteristics and the other fundamental building blocks necessary to create agile organisations.


Julian Birkinshaw
What to expect from Agile
Sloan Management Review, January 2018

The purpose of this article is to examine agile as a management practice. The research is based on a case study of ING bank in the Netherlands. It groups lessons learned in two five key points: (1) decide how much power you are willing to give up; (2) prepare stakeholders for the change; (3) build the structure around customers; (4) give employees the right balance of oversight and autonomy; and (5) provide employees with development and growth opportunities. Reading the full article requires free registration at MIT’s website.


Karin Ahlbäck, Clemens Fahrbach, Monica Murarka, and Olli Salo
How to design an agile organization
McKinsey, October 2017

The path to agility depends on the starting point. This article examines organisational agility within the context of identifying three pathways for implementation. The authors argue that for the performance units in organisations that aren’t yet agile, their research suggests clear guidance for how to move forward. But organisational agility is not a one-size-fits-all undertaking. The specific practices a unit or organisation should focus on to become agile depend on whether it is currently (1) bureaucratic, (3) start-up, or (3) trapped.


L.J. (Hans) Lekkerkerk
Self-managing in Merry-go round
LinkedIn, October 2017

This blog discusses self-managing teams (SMTs) and proposes the following method for practitioners. First, print or draw a detailed chart of the organisation, showing all departments, and maybe all individuals within (e.g. when there are senior and junior employees that may work on complex and simple tasks respectively). Second, select a representative set of customer orders, assign them a color and connect the contributing ‘boxes’ in the right order.  Finally, the challenge is to design a new division of labour in which units are ideally responsible, ‘end-to-end’, for a subset of your customer orders.


Stephen Parry
Designing organisations that work for lean and agile thinking people 
InfoQueue, April 2017

This video discusses the nexus of organisational landscapes types, work-climate and lean and agile working practices. It highlights key individual, group and material factors to consider when implementing lean and agile working practices.


Michael Mankins and Eric Garton
How Spotify Balances Employee Autonomy and Accountability 
Harvard Business Review, February 2017

Research shows that autonomy may be the most important factors influencing employee engagement. On the on hand, it encourages creativity and involvement. However, on the other hand, too much autonomy can lead to ambiguity and inefficiencies. This article identifies the three main challenges to balancing employee autonomy and accountability and examines how Spotify’s agile management approach addresses these challenges.


Peter Jacobs, Bart Schlatmann and Deepak Mahadevan
ING’s agile transformation
McKinsey & Company, January 2017

Agility is about flexibility and the ability of an organisation to rapidly adapt and steer itself in a new direction. This article explores the Dutch banking group ING’s journey to an “agile” model inspired by companies such as Google, Netflix and Spotify. In this interview with senior managers at ING Netherlands and McKinsey, they explain why the bank needed to change, how it manages without the old reporting lines, and how it measures the impact of its efforts.


Chris Worley and Sue Mohrman
Organization design capabilities: What organizations need to be agile in today’s increasingly turbulent world
University of Southern California, January 2017

This webinar discusses the inadequacies of our familiar change models and outlines the systems model for design along with a methodology and tools for embedding “agile” focused capability.  They continue to support the STAR model with a capability-building approach. It accompanies a pdf of slides from January 01/10/2017 webinar.


David Edelman, Jason Heller and Steven Spittaels,
 Agile Marketing: A step-by-step guide
McKinsey & Company, November 2016

For some large multinational companies, Agile working practices are moving beyond the IT department and beginning to shape working practice in the entire organisation. This article provides a step-by-step explanation of using Agile practices as part of your marketing organisation. It includes a description of scaling those practices using a “control tower” team.


Matt Cooper-Wright
The blurring between Design Thinking and Agile
Medium, November 2016

This blog explores the question: what is the difference between Design Thinking and Agile? It provides insight into the “origin stories” for Design Thinking and Agile and compares and contrasts each approach. It also introduces Lean thinking to highlight how the objectives of continuous improvement and waste reduction shape the Agile approach.


Santiago Comella-Dorda, Gerard Speksnijder & Roberta Fusaro,
How IT can drive agile development
McKinsey & Company, November 2016

Agility has been described as a simple idea. That is, create an operating model to be able to build small, self-contained teams that create change quickly and efficiently. This podcast and accompanying investigates how IT functions in large, complex companies can work to become more agile by better mimicking the actions taken by start-ups and digital-native organisations.


Darrell Rigby, Jeff Sutherland and Hirotaka Takeuchi
Embracing Agile
Harvard Business Review, April 2016

This article is a great read about what executives should and shouldn’t do if they are serious about using Agile practices and self-managing teams in their organisation. It accompanies a video that explains the agile process in under 4 minutes.


Dawna Jones and Steve Denning
Can Flexible Companies Scale?, March 2016

This podcast features Steve Denning, author of A Leader’s Guide to Radical Management, and discusses how scaling practices like Agile, DevOps, Lean and Scrum can be effective in large organisations. Common threads in the discussion are the increased power of customers and the need for continuous innovation to remain competitive, and the role of workplace leaders in supporting self-managed teams.


Ranjay Gulati and Alicia DeSantola
Start-Ups That Last
Harvard Business Review, March 2016

Many start-ups have trouble “scaling”. They are torn between the need to add some structure to their organisation and the fear of bureaucracy which will crush their entrepreneurial spirit. However, as this HBR article shows, there is a useful middle ground between the extremes of ad hoc and prescriptive organising. From their extensive research, the authors have distilled four very sensible principles for the organisational design of a growing business.


Pieter van der Meché and Jutta Eckstein
Connect Agile Teams to Organizational Hierarchy: A Sociocratic Solution
InfoQueue, December 2015

One solution for connecting self-managing teams to a hierarchical organisation structure is Sociocracy. This article contains an example of how to do this for Agile teams.


Wouter Aghina, Aaron De Smet, and Kirsten Weerda
Agility: It rhymes with stability
McKinsey & Company, December 2015

This article offers early findings from McKinsey’s work with large global institutions that have successfully become more agile by redesigning themselves for both stability and speed. The article gives useful and practical pointers about how to balance this tension in three areas: structure, governance and processes.


Sjoerd (Georges) Romme
Scale-Ups and Capability-Performance Challenge
LinkedIn, December 2015

Georges comments on a recent study about what distinguishes average start-ups from scale-ups: start-ups that can grow to become large corporations.


This theme explores holacracy and the potential of self-organising teams to support better workplace processes and outcomes.


Tony Hsieh, Aaron De Smet and Chris Gagnon
Safe enough to try: An interview with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh
McKinsey & Company, October 2017

This article reports on a recent interview with Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. It focuses on the implementation of holacracy at Zappos and provides a strong argument for the potential for self-organising teams to encourage and support workplace innovation. Drawing on both theory and practice it provides useful reading for those interested in learning more about holacracy. It also includes a short video featuring Tony Hsieh’s thoughts on the Zappos ecosystem.


Aimee Groth
Zappos is struggling with Holacracy because humans aren’t designed to operate like software, December 2016

For some researchers and management consultants with firsthand experience of Holacracy, it can be seen as a dehumanising system that imposes layers of bureaucracy and adds unnecessary psychological weight on to employees. This article explores the so-called “empathy vacuum” that exists in organisational design approaches characterised by rigid formal structures and management by metrics.


Joost Minnaar and Pim de Morree
An inside view of Zappos (and the mysterious Holacracy experiment
Corporate Rebels, November 2016

The folks from Corporate Rebels visited Zappos in Las Vegas recently and have something to say about the company’s choice of Holacracy as an organisational model. Drawing on conversations with former and existing members of staff the blog reports on employees’ experiences of Holacracy from a critical perspective.


Ethan Bernstein, John Bunch, Niko Canner, Michael Lee
Beyond the Holacracy Hype
Harvard Business Review, June 2016

This article provides an in-depth examination of Holacracy, describing the “movement” of self-management in a historical context and outlining the latest developments, strengths and weaknesses of this model and others like it.  It provides a useful educational summary for readers who want to move “beyond the hype” and advocates for an incremental approach to implementing such change.


Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini
Top-Down Solutions Like Holacracy Won’t Fix Bureaucracy
Harvard Business Review, March 2016

This article adopts a functional perspective and explains why bureaucracy is a persistent aspect of modern organisational life. Research suggests that an incremental approach to a “post-bureaucratic” organisation requires, for example, both open innovation projects and leadership development.


Georges Rommes
The Big Misconceptions Holding Holacracy Back
Harvard Business Review, September 2015

The future of organisations may depend on the rise of distributed forms of management and leadership.  As Georges Rommes argues the real problem with Holacracy isn’t the ideas behind it, but the misunderstandings that have grown up around it. This article is written from an organisation design perspective and provides a brief introduction to the concept of holacracy before successfully debunking three common misconceptions: 1) holacracy means abandonment of corporate hierarchy, 2) the goal justifies any means, and 3) distributed management does not affect the C-suite or boardroom. It examines real word business examples, such as the American online shoes and clothing company Zappos and the Dutch engineering firm Endenburg Elektrotechniek, to debunk some of the misunderstandings around both the theory and practice of distributed management techniques. The recently published article is a 7-minute read and should be useful for either A) those unfamiliar with the concept of holacracy, or B) management experts or practitioners interested in applying distributive concepts in the workplace and looking for a quick refresher article on holacracy.


Jerry Useem
Are Bosses Necessary?
The Atlantic, October 2015

This article on Holacracy is written from a humanities and social science perspective. The article provides an overview of the recent controversy surrounding Zappos’ recent implementation of Holacracy philosophy and some of the popular debate that has developed around the now trending organisation design approach. Interestingly, American shoes and clothing company Zappos recently released this spoof video to respond to the controversy.


Adrian Wooldridge
The Holes in Holacracy
The Economist, July 2014  

The article provides a critical analysis of the recently published ‘Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World’. While successfully exposing some of the weaknesses of Roberston’s management philosophy, the author nevertheless focuses on the important relationship between “performance” and organisational design.

Re-organisation & re-design

This theme examines re-organisation and re-design within a variety of context. It identifies some of the key barriers and facilitators to effective large-scale organisational change.


Harm Jans
Scaling change: A unique bottom-up approach 
Corporate Rebels, August 2018

This blog-post discusses‘s, a Netherlands based webshop, move from large, functional departments to small, cross-functional teams, each focused on a specific product category. The aim of the change was to make working in the commercial operations feel like working in a small company again.

Naomi Stanford
Evaluating organization design work 
August 2018

EODF curatorial board member, Naomi Stanford, discusses the benefits of evaluating organisation design work. She outlines a seven-step process for conducting an evaluation and identifies some of the potential risks involved.


Lisa Gill
10 components that successfully abolished hierarchy In 70+ companies,
Corporate Rebels, March 2018

Research shows that employee engagement early in the change process is critical to success. This  blog post outlines 10 essentials for a self-management transformation: (1) transparency, (2) no hierarchy, (3) teams, (4) no privileges, (5) salary balance, (6) no controls, (7) measure and track, (8) shared decision-making, (9) no layoffs, and (10) profit share. It also includes several practical suggestions for organisations interested in starting on their own transformation journey. 


Markus Berger-de León
Behind the scenes of top digital makeovers
McKinsey & Company, March 2018

What does it take to lead a successful “digital transformation”? Research shows that if you haven’t built the right operating model or developed the right culture and set of skills for the long-term, a digital transformation will fail. According to Markus Berger-de León, an expert in the European digital start-up field, there are three key factors that are crucial: (1) building next-generation operating model, (2) upend the culture, and (3) recruit digital-savvy talent.


 Art Kleiner and Josie Thomson
Overcoming challenges during a major transformation
Strategy+Business, March 2018

 This blog post is based on an interview with Michael Pennisi, the chief executive of QSuper, one of Australia’s largest pension funds.  In it, he describes his experience of leading change in a large complex organisation. Some the critical success factors discussed include improving user-experience, investing in leadership capabilities, effective communications, and the importance of stakeholder management and community engagement.


Joost Minnaar, Pim de Morree, Freek Ronner and Catelijne Bexkens,
The world’s most pioneering company of our times
Corporate Rebels, February 2018

This blog focuses on the Chinese firm Haier, the world’s #1 home appliance maker. It first outlines the history of the company and then describes their evolution in management style and organisation design from 1984 to present. The authors argue that the real uniqueness of Haier’s transformation journey lies in its constant attempts to adapt, and to continually experiment with its organisational structure to meet employee and user demands.


Ramon Baeza et al
The comeback kids: Lessons from successful turnarounds
Boston Consulting Group, December 2017

 This report examines eleven of the most successful “comeback” companies in the past decade. It provides several case studies including HSBC, Nokia, Olympus and many other European and Asian companies and identifies the following five critical elements to a successful turnaround: (1) an objective understanding of the company’s situation; (2) redefine the company’s strategic focus; (3) restructure to reduce costs and complexity; (4) building a culture to support innovation with an openness to change; and (5) invest in digital.


 James Everingham
How we reorganized Instagram’s engineering team while quadrupling its size
Harvard Business Review, December 2017

 This article describes the re-organisation process at Instagram between 2015 to 2017 during which it expanded from 115 to 400 engineers. The implementation processes emphasised the importance of employee buy-in and reducing overall ambiguity in the organisation. The re-organisation’s top five guiding principles were: (1) minimise dependencies between teams and code; (2) have clear accountability with the fewest decision makers; (3) groups have clear measure; (4) top-level organisations have roadmaps; and (5) performance, stability, and code quality have owners.


Naomi Stanford
Designing a small HR function
September 2017

EODF Curatorial Board member, Naomi Stanford, identifies three questions related to the continuous re-design of a small HR function. First, how much do we want the design process and the design outcome to be a ‘test and learn’ environment? Second, what HR activity needs to be done? Finally, how much do we want our design work and outcomes to reflect the new ways of working?


Stephen Heidari-Robinson
Making government reorgs work
Harvard Business Review, March 2017

This article identifies three pathways to success for reorganisation: First, it helps to clearly define and quantify the benefits before launching the changes. It’s helpful to get employees to support the objectives of the reorg.  explain to employees why a change is being made and, if possible, creating support around it. The second success factor is to redesign work processes to link outcomes to the activities needed to deliver them. Simply put, redesign the processes for how work gets done. The third success factor is accelerating the pace of implementation to make the reorganisation deliver benefits as soon as possible.


Stéphane Girod and Samina Karim
Restructure or Reconfigure?
Harvard Business Review, March 2017

‘Reorganisation’ is a term used to describe two distinct change processes—restructuring and reconfiguration. This article outlines a four-part framework to help guide the reorganisation process. It is accompanied by a supplementary article that features a useful survey to help evaluate the success of reorganisation – Assessment: How successful was your company’s reorg? By Stephen Heidari-Robinson and Suzanne Heywood.


Garth Andrus, Don Miller and Maya Bodan
Embedding digital DNA in your organization: Think “rewire” instead of “redesign”, December 2016

This blog explores the challenges of digital transformation and suggests that “rewiring” the organisation—rather than wholesale redesigning it — is an effective approach to introducing new technology. Rewiring is defined as a two-part, interrelated process: (1) understanding the underlying networks of the organisation and (2) embedding any changes through effective governance. When introducing new technology, the goal is to more effectively improve the interactions between the digital and legacy organisations.


Philippa Hardman and Dev Mookherjee
The “dirty little secret of organization design”
Ashbridge, November 2016

This blog introduces the findings of a recent study that investigated the lived experiences of key stakeholders in the re-design process in 25 European-based organisations. The key lessons learned are about being more open about the purpose of the re-design and the process that is being used and ensuring clarity on who will be making important decisions in the re-design process. To find out more, download the full report (Re-)Designing Organizations Lessons from the field Report.


Ron Capelle
Organizational restructuring: Four common pitfall to avoid
LinkedIn, June 2016

This article discusses organisational restructuring. Whether you are currently part of a restructuring effort, considering one, or know people that are, there is value in understanding some of the ‘traps’ that organisations can fall into when looking to make large scale workforce changes. It argues that organisational restructuring requires a thoughtful approach that can deliver both shorter term cost savings and longer term performance improvements.


Chris Worley
9 Golden Rules for Re-designing Organizations
LinkedIn, April 2016

This blog critiques two articles recently published in McKinsey Quarterly titled, “The Science of Organizational Transformations” and “Getting Organizational Redesign Right”. It exposes the deficiencies of a mainstream management approach that simply offers a prescriptive toolkit for implementing organisation change. Instead it points towards a more context-sensitive approach that considers multiple stakeholders and the significance of “lateral” relationships, individual incentives and group dynamics, and the importance of having the right people making the right decision at the right time and place.


Camilo Becdach, Shannon Hennessy and Lauren Ratner
Rethinking the Rules of Reorganization
McKinsey & Company, April 2016

This article points to the widespread tendency of US consumer-goods and retail companies to treat restructurings as cost-cutting exercises, often leaving the organisation intact, but leaner and less capable of long-term growth. The authors offer “5 new rules for organisation redesign” that support rethinking the entire organisation and conducting systemic redesign, involving structure, process and governance changes, thereby gaining opportunities for increasing agility and growth. For us, as organisation designers, these ideas are not at all new. But the article highlights the habit of short-term thinking and the reluctance to carefully align organisational architecture with strategy in the US retail and consumer goods world with an illustrative example.


Philippa Hardman and Dev Mookherjee,
(Re-)Designing organizations: Lessons from the field
Ashridge, March 2016

This blog post reports on a recent applied research study on implementing organisation design. It summarises the key qualitative findings from interviews with twenty-five senior managers in predominantly European organisations. The full article outlines recommendations for practitioners and includes a process flow showing the stages that practitioners went through during their re-design.


Change management

This theme focuses on leading changing from an organisation design perspective. It identifies multiple top-down and bottom-up approaches and the necessary management skills needed to successfully guide organisational change.


Blake Lindsay, Nick Waugh and Simon London
How to implement and sustain organization change 
McKinsey & Company, July 2018

This interview and podcast discusses the challenging work of implementing and sustaining change in organisations. It emphasises the critical role of both executive leaders and the frontline managers in implementing change, the role of lean and agile working practices in supporting change, and the importance of using key performance indicators during a period of transformation.


Elizabeth Doty
Starting a transformation? Don’t change everything!
Strategy+Business, February 2018

Recent research shows that employees lose confidence in all major corporate commitments when there is a significant leadership change. If this is the case, “how do new leaders encourage employees to mobilise back into action as quickly as possible?” The trick is to recognise that your team is already in motion and by taking the time to uncover what is happening on the ground now and affirming explicitly what you want to continue, stop, or start anew, you can dramatically reduce the reset effect. To put this into practice, consider holding three types of conversation: (1) the “story-line” conversation, (2) the “new challenge” conversation, and (3) the “realign the work” conversation.


Joost Minnaarand and Pim d Morree,
The corporate rebels canvas: a practical tool to build a workplace people love
Corporate Rebels, April 2017

This blog introduces a participative organisation design workshop approach for creating better workplaces. It includes a customised template to support the workshop, and more information on both the theory and approach can be found in this supplementary Huffington Post article.


Roger L. Martin,
Use design thinking to build commitment to a new idea
Harvard Business Review, January 2017

This article discusses how design thinking can be used for helping to gain organisational support for a “new idea”. It argues that the designer needs to pay as close attention to how the new idea is created, shared, and brought to life as the new idea itself. It includes a short explainer video on design thinking.


Naomi Stanford
Burning, bumping and what does
July 2016

EODF Curatorial Board member Naomi Stanford discusses the challenges of implementing transformation change in the absence of a “burning platform”. In order to reach agreement on what needs to change and/or transform, she suggests asking the question, “What does good look like?” In order to support this approach, she suggests following four important principles: engage in the history of the organisation, listen to different views and perspectives, have a common understanding of the words you are using, and learn to be a good adviser.


Joanna Wilde
Why organisational design fails. Or “Why don’t we design psychologically safe interiors in our workplaces?”
LinkedIn, May 2016

This article examines the social psychology of organisations. It argues that organisation design consultants pay attention to the “design of the psychological interiors” we expect people to work in if we want to create sustainable workplaces: we need to pay attention to tone, power and the nature of human contact. This subject is further explored in Joanna Wilde’s new book – The Social Psychology of Organizations: Diagnosing Toxicity and Intervening in the Workplace


Adam Grant
How to Build a Culture of Originality
Harvard Business Review, March 2016

This article highlights the importance of encouraging the creative ideas of all employees in order to turn “ideas” into “reality, or innovation”. It identifies multiple approaches and the necessary skills facilitators must develop in order to successfully guide organisational change.

Strategy & Leadership

This theme examines organisational leadership and strategy in the public and private sectors, and large and SME organisations. It engages in key debates from an evidence-based perspective on, for example, leading workplace innovation, diversity, digital transformation, and organisational resilience.


Gerald Kane
Is the right group leading your digital initiatives? 
Sloan Management Review, August 2018

Research shows that digital transformation is more of an organisational challenge than it is a technological one. As organisations mature, they are less likely to report that IT leads digital change. This article identifies which functional areas are leading digital change and suggests that digitally mature organisations push decision-making further down into the organisation.


Justin Wasserman
HR earning a strategic seat at the transformation table
Forbes, March 2018

 How do you make the shift from HR being reactive and transactional to strategic and able to drive enhanced business results? This article reports on an interview with Sherry Thomson, CHRO of New Brunswick Power in Canada, on how their HR team made this shift. The initial challenge was confronting the mindset that HR’s role was to be the ’employee advocate’ versus a key enabler in driving business results. To overcome this challenge, HR first focused on building relationships with internal business leaders to understand their challenges and opportunities. Second, by demonstrating financial results early on in the change process they were able to help organisational leaders understand how engaging the workforce in innovative working practice would create better business outcomes.


Scot Keller and Mary Meaney
What every leader needs to know about organizational management
McKinsey & Company, December 2017

 This McKinsey podcast outlines ten “timeless” management topics, topics that over the last 20, 40 years have stood the test of time and that are at the core of what it means to be a good leader and good manager. It focuses on leadership and the activities needed to lead organisations to success.


Mark Nyman
Simplifying organizational barriers
LinkedIn, October 2017

This blog post focuses on the relationship between strategy and organisation design. It highlights two principles that can help guide the process of simplifying organisational barriers to create customer value. The first step involves defining the competitive work that creates value for customers and identifying which competitive capabilities that support this activity. This process is based on outside-in logic on how market opportunities and customer needs are met. The second step involves creating interdisciplinary teams that build the competitive capabilities need to successfully execute competitive work. This process, therefore, focuses on understanding how an organisation’s strategy and business model drive day-to-day activity in order to create customer value.


Joery Niessing
Leveraging digital to optimise the customer experience
Insead, October 2017

This blog examines the digital transformation of the customer experience. It argues that the winners of the digital race are often not the fastest adopters of new technology, but the ones who take the time to properly integrate digital into an existing organisational strategy. However, just as important as technology, management initiatives such as design thinking can act as enablers of the digital transformation process.  The authors discuss the benefits and challenges of optimising the customer journey by drawing on empirical case-study evidence to support their core arguments.


Ranjay Gulati
GE’s global growth experiment 
Harvard Business Review, August 2017

This appears in the Sept/Oct issue of HBR and is worth the read about how to balance local needs with worldwide scale. It includes a package of three articles: one an interview with (former) CEO Jeffrey Immelt, this featured article on GE’s global growth, and a third on talent management at GE.  It’s a bit of personal legacy piece for Immelt, but still valuable.


Naomi Stanford
Leading Design Work
August 2017

What do you think the role of leaders is in organisation design work? EODF Curatorial Board member, Naomi Stanford, suggests that organisational leaders play three critical roles. First, explaining the ‘why’ of design or redesign. Second, in supporting people in making sense of the context that the (re)design work is responding to. Finally, she argues that it is the role of leaders to support the process through effective storytelling.


Julian Birkinshaw and Dan Cable
The Darkside of Transparency
McKinsey & Company, February 2017

Transparency within organisations is generally a good thing. Think of the benefits of sharing information freely, as a way of empowering frontline employees and improving the quality and speed of decision making. However, research shows there can be negative unintended consequences of too much transparency. For example, excessive sharing of information creates problems of information overload and can legitimise endless debate and second-guessing of senior executive decisions. This article looks at three main areas where too much transparency creates problems and offers some guidance on how to get the balance right in organisations.


Naomi Stanford
Designing Resilience
February 2017

EODF Curatorial Board member, Naomi Stanford, explores the concept of organisational resilience. She identifies key dimensions of ‘change resilience’ before outlining the organisational design implications of resilience


Catherine Shepherd
How can organisations take a holiday?
Roffey Park blog, October 2016

This article uses the metaphor of an ‘organisational holiday’ to explore organisational resilience. The author first outlines various perspectives on the concept of organisational resilience. They argue that to create a resilient workplace leaders should foster a culture of adaptability, collaboration, knowledge sharing and trust to build positive social capital between employees in order to prepare for future crisis situations.


Stuart Wigham
LinkedIn, September 2016

EODF Curatorial Board member Stuart Wigham explores the meaning of the term integrity. He makes linkages between personal integrity, working life and organisation design theory and practice.


Bud Caddell
What every institutional innovation program get wrong
Medium, August 2016

This article suggests that in order to remain competitive businesses needed a “Scale Team”, a small group of employees, with both the time and space, to diffuse new technologies into your organisation and your customers’ lives. These employees are expected to invent the future of your business while your managers ensure your immediate survival. In other words, the author argues that in order to achieve financial sustainability, organisations need to support a small band of talent, with a small amount of resources, that live on the bleeding edge so that you remain on the leading edge.


Wonsik Choi, Hyejin Kang, Tomas Koch, and Brooke Weddle
Screening the organizational health of Korea’s companies
McKinsey & Company, August 2016

This article reports on survey results from McKinsey’s Organization Health Index to examine how effectively 100 Korean businesses are run. It suggests that Korean companies lag well behind their global peers in following high performance working practices. The article introduces a framework for evaluating organisational health and discusses aspects of organisational culture in Korean that are seen to create unhappy workers.


Jim Hemerling, Vikram Bhalla, Diana Dosik, and Stephanie Hurder
Building Capabilities for Transformation That Lasts
Boston Consulting Group, June 2016

This article discusses the role of capabilities in organisational transformation, including an analysis of what comprises capabilities and ways to build them. It also includes a comprehensive definition of the underlying components of a capability and a short case study on capability building in a technology company. Be sure to click on the “next” tab – Where Do Companies Go Wrong? – at the bottom of the page to access each component of the article.


Naomi Stanford
What Works: Gender Equality by Design
June 2016

EODF Curatorial Board member Naomi Stanford discusses gender equality and some of the key findings and recommendations found in Iris Bohnet’s new book, What Works: Gender Equality by Design. Acknowledging her own initial skepticism towards some of the book’s thirty-six recommendations for tackling gender inequality, Naomi outlines three recommendations from the book and argues that practitioners could (and should) be much more conscious of the potential impact organisation design has on gender equality.


Naomi Stanford
Can We Design Gender Parity? 
March 2016

In response to International Women’s Day (March 8th), a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, EODF Curatorial Board member Naomi Stanford outlines the potential role of organisation designers in accelerating gender parity in the workplace and society. It accompanies the blog: Why There are So Few Women in the C-Suite?


John Katzenbach, Carolin Oelschlegel & James Thomas
10 Principles of Corporate Culture
Strategy + Business, February 2016

This article offers a detailed analysis of organisational culture and step-by-step guide to understanding how both informal and formal workplace relations shape employee engagement. It accompanies the video: What is Corporate Culture?


Charles Duhigg
What Google Learned from Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team
New York Times Magazine, February 2016

This article speaks to a recent study of team dynamics at Google. After spending significant effort analysing factors that make for the “perfect team,” this study revealed the power of group norms (team culture) as the common thread for team productivity and sustainability. The article is “light” on design and more focused on team dynamics, but supports what we know intuitively about team composition.


Paul Tolchinsky
Accelerating Change: New Ways of Thinking about Engaging the Whole System
February 2016

EODF Curatorial Board member Paul Tolchinsky explores new ways of developing, nurturing and leveraging intrapreneurialship in organisations. This article offers five recommendations to support workplace employee intrapreneurial behaviour.


Chris Worley and Sue Mohrman
Top-down, Bottom-up, Outside-in, and from the Middle-out: Where Traditional Change Processes Fall Short
University of Southern California, December 2014

This webinar discusses tools and examples of organisations that have abandoned the traditional approaches to organisation design to adopt more flexible and agile approaches. It features America’s largest apparel retailer Gap Inc. as a case study and is accompanied by a pdf of slides from the December 12/12/14 webinar.

Collaboration, decision-making & job design

This theme investigates the benefits and challenges of implementing collaborative working practices and the importance of job design in creating innovative workplaces.


Ranjay Gulait
The right way for a firm to do an innovation pilot with a startup 
Harvard Business Review, May 2018

For large organisations seeking to innovate partnering with a startup can be appealing. For example, small amounts of time and money can quickly result in new or more innovative products or services. This article suggests that the key common denominator to success isn’t careful planning and comprehensive analysis, but taking fast, cheap, and simple pilots seriously. It outlines a number of key characteristics of a successful innovation pilot witha startup. The minimum viable pilot “startnership” checklist includes the following five characteristics: (1) derisk it, (2) remember that less is more, (3) explicitly align any insights gained to KPI improvements, (4) know what’s next, and (5) make everyone look good.


Barry Camson
Adaptive design for collaborative ecosystems 
April 2018

This article provides a working description of a collaborative ecosystem in which value is co-created. It outlines key factors in the process of adaptive design for the ecosystem. It provides an approach to pursuing adaptive design for a collaborative ecosystem.


Herman Vantrappen and Frederic Wirtz
When to decentralize decision making, and when not to
Harvard Business Review, January 2018

 Research shows that decentralised decision-making helps organisations respond more quickly to external and internal stakeholders. For organisation designers, this article presents a simple logic to follow when addressing the issue of “centralisation” versus “decentralisaton” based on four principles: (1) responsiveness; (2) reliability; (3) efficiency; and (4) perennity.


Aaron De Smet, Gerald Lackey and Leigh Weiss
Untangling your organization’s decision making
McKinsey Quarterly, June 2017

Arguably the ultimate solution for many organisations looking to improve their decision making is to become flatter and more agile. This article outlines how to improve decision-making through a process of categorising the type of decision that is being made and tailoring your approach accordingly. It describes how to adopt your decision-making methods according to circumstances and offers tools that individuals can use to identify problems in order to take corrective action and, over time, improve an organisation‘s decision-making capabilities.


Thorsten Koch and Josef Windsper
Seeing through the network: Competitive advantage in the digital economy
Journal of Organization Design, May 2017

This article contributes to the debate on how organisations compete in the digital economy. It provides a network-centric perspective focusing on inter-organisational networks and network theory. It examines the competitive environment of organisations that are confronted with digital technology, providing a framework that may help organisational leaders to design and create strategies to achieve a sustained competitive advantage in the digital economy.


Nicolas Harte, Philippe Soussan, and Arnaud de la Tour
A framework for deep-tech collaboration 
Boston Consulting Group, April 2017

This article describes a whole system framework – strategy, structure, process, culture – for creating a “deep technology” collaboration shared platform between corporations and start-ups, through all stages of product design. The article includes links to an earlier (Part 1) article as well to an in-depth report.


Tom Puthiyamadam
How to Build a Connected Workforce
Strategy + Business, February 2017 

Building a working environment to encourage collaboration is critical. However, research shows that only half of global organisations have a common road map of their business strategy. This article discusses workplace collaboration from a technology perspective and explores the implications of collaborative working on product and service design and corporate strategy.


David Clarke
The serious business of sandboxes
Strategy+Business, January 2017

Constructing places where employees can collaborate, improvise, and watch one another can encourage creativity. As one of the techniques that can be used to break down the silo mentality, this article adopts the metaphor of the “sandbox” to describe the type of collaboration and interaction that should take place in the open, communal office spaces, virtual meetings and other places of work.


Sarah Green Carmichael and Heidi Gardner
Collaborating better across silos
Harvard Business Review, January 2017

The audio and accompanying interview transcript discusses how organisations gain a competitive advantage when specialists collaborate across functional boundaries. They explore some of the common challenges of collaborative working practices, the influence of national cultures and the role of organisational leadership.


Pieter van der Meché, Jens Coldewey, Hendrik Esser, and Anders Ivarsson
Decision Making Systems Matter, December 2016

The amount of information and speed of information flow have outpaced our organisations’ capabilities to filter and make sense of available facts and make good decisions. Therefore, we need to look at our decision-making systems and optimise them to meet today’s leadership and knowledge management challenges. To address these challenges this whitepaper investigates how to integrate Agile teams into an organisational hierarchy, using Sociocracy.


Ruben Schaubroeck, Felicita Holsztejn Tarczewski, and Rob Theunissen
Making Collaboration Across Functions a Reality
McKinsey Quarterly, March 2016 

This article examines two companies in order to better understand the challenges and benefits of cross-functional collaboration in large organisations. The article provides a useful framework for guiding such change programmes.


Killian Fox and Joanne O’Connor
Five ways work will change in the future
The Guardian, November 2015 

This article examines 5 key trends shaping the future of work. It includes important insights into the changing nature of workplace structure and the impact of technology on work design and employment.


Diego Stea, Kirsten Foss, and Nicolai J. Foss
A Neglected Role for Organizational Design: Supporting the Credibility of Delegation in Organizations
Journal of Organization Design, September 2015

This article argues that organisation design can play a key role in making delegation “credible”, that is, in making it more likely that employees will not be overruled by their manager. Examples of design decisions that achieve this aim are given in two areas: designing decision procedures that increase the costs of managerial intervention and designing the organisation such that it is less likely that managerial intervention is needed.


Naomi Stanford
Meaningful work and/or job design
December 2015

EODF Curatorial Board member Naomi Stanford comments on the importance of job design in creating meaningful work.

Structure & operation model

This theme focuses on systems theory and the relationship between an organisation’s operating model, structures and processes.


Ranjay Gulait
Structure that is not stifling 
Harvard Business Review, May 2018

Employee voice is central to the employment relationship and high-performance workplaces. This article examines employee voice and focuses on two case studies, Netflix and Alaska Airlines, to illustrate what “freedom in a framework” looks like and how it functions in a range of settings. It also discusses the framework’s “fragility”—its vulnerability to dissolution and its tendency to revert to bureaucracy.


Naomi Stanford
Matrix structure the pessimism advantage 
May 2018

EODF Curatorial Board member, Naomi Stanford, discusses the matrix structure and its challenges. She identifies issues such as organisational culture, emotional intelligence and learning and development to help with the implementation and success of a matrix structure.


Naomi Stanford
Complexity and organisational processes
March 2018

How would you evaluate the degree of complexity in a business function and what is manageable for one Director? EODF Curatorial Board member, Naomi Stanford, attempts to answer this question by adopting a process perspective and highlighting the role of both institutional and individual complexity. The discussion on evaluating organisational complexity includes a supplementary TEDx Talk presentation by Julian Birkinshaw on managing corporate complexity.


Zhang Ruimin
Why Haier is reorganizing itself around the internet of things 
Strategy&Business, February 2018

In this article the chief executive of Haier, the world’s largest and fastest-growing home appliance company, discusses the pressure that the Internet has placed on the business models of large companies. It examines, Haier’s business model, Rendanheyi, designed to foster co-creation and win-win solutions for employees and customers. It has three main attributes: (1) an open system, a network of self-governing microenterprises with free-flowing communication, (2) employees who are self-motivated contributors, in many cases choosing or electing the leaders and members of their teams, and (3) customers transformed to lifetime users of products and services.


David Hanna
Beyond matrix structures
LinkedIn, March 2018

This blog post is an in-depth exploration of the matrix structure. First, it provides a theoretical overview of the bureaucratic organisation. Second, it outlines the matrix organisation and its underlying design principles. Finally, it concludes with an in-depth examination of the matrix structure and how it functions in practice including a consideration of the necessary organisational culture (i.e., Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct) that brings any structure to life.


Yves Morieux
As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify
TedTalk (10 mins), January 2018

Why is there so little engagement at work? In this enthusiastic talk. Yves Morieux critiques both the “hard” and “soft” approach to management and argues that “complicatedness” is the root cause that hinders both performance and satisfaction at work. He offers an approach based on six rules for “smart simplicity”. Rule number one: Understand what your colleagues do.


Nicolay Worren
The matrix is not the “end point” for complex firms
December 2017

 Research shows that many organisations that adopt the matrix structure later abandon it and organisations that have adopted it find it unworkable. Nicolay’s blog post discusses his recent academic article that examines the matrix structure. It argues that the matrix structure may sometimes be a transitory form that eventually gives way to a simpler – yet still multidimensional – structure. It also includes a supplementary 3-minute video in which Nicolay summarises his article.


 Andrew Campbell
Seeing the bigger picture: Where operations meets business
Operational Excellence Society, June 2017

How can operational excellence professional keep business objectives in mind while making operational improvements? This article shows how two widely used tools – The Business Model Canvas and The Operating Model Canvas – can be combined to create a new and enhanced canvas that encourages managers to see the bigger picture while they are buried in operational challenges.


Albert Bollard, Elixabete Larrea, Alex Singla, and Rohit Sood
The next-generation operating model for the digital world
McKinsey, March 2017

This article argues that for organisations to provide excellent products or services they must adopt a new operating model that deliver both better user journeys and operational efficiencies. A simple way to visualise this operating model is to think of it as having two parts. The first part involves launching an integrated operational-improvement programme organised around customer journeys as well as the internal journeys (end-to-end processes inside the organisation). The second phase involves adopting multiple levers or capabilities in sequence to achieve a compound impact. The core focus of this strategy to move away for siloed operational efficiency exercises towards a more joined-up approach which places users at the heart of any process improvement activity.


Joost Minnaar and Pim deMorree
The command and control model is outdated, even the military says so!
Corporate Rebels, March 2017

This blog describes the experiences of a former nuclear submarine commander and how he managed to change the USS Santa Fe from the worst to best performing in the fleet by challenging the U.S. Navy’s traditional, top-down approach. The journey began by encouraging a distributed leadership approach, setting a clear purpose or described outcome at the start of every mission, and supporting a culture of continuous improvement.


Dov Seidman
Starting with a Pause
Strategy+Business, October 2016

This blog introduced the findings of The HOW Report which makes the case for self-governance. The author argues that creating a self-governing organisation starts with a pause. That is, to rebuild the trustworthiness and reputation of your business, you must trust employees with the truth, engage in candid conversations about important issues, and appreciate the capacity people have for doing the right thing.


Joost Minnaar and Pim deMorree
Spotify (part 2): Cherishing a start-up culture during exponential growth
Corporate Rebels, October 2016

Brief, informative and easy-to-read two-part description of Spotify’s organisational model, for those not yet familiar with it.This article describes the strategies used to maintain the company’s “start-up vibe” culture while rapidly growing into large a multinational organisation. It includes a video on Spotify’s culture and Part 1 describes what it is like to work at Spotify and their innovative agile working practices.


Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini
Excess Management is Costing the U.S. $3 Trillion Per Year
Harvard Business Review, September 2016

This article discusses the negative impact of organisational bureaucracy on the economy. It argues that the cost of excessive bureaucracy in the U.S. economy amounts to more than $3 trillion in lost economic output, or about 17% of GDP. The article identifies exemplary organisations in North America and Europe in engineering, information technology and banking to highlight the influence of agile working practices on overall firm performance. It concludes by arguing that an organisational restructuring approach that seeks to de-layer management and remove certain non-value added workplace activities could help close the productivity gap.


Simone Cicero
Your organization too, can be a platform
Stories of Platform Design, August 2016

This article explains that platform design thinking is a new way to understand your organisation that goes beyond traditionally imposed barriers on what a business or organisation should be. The author suggests two key steps that organisations can take to evolve to become inter-operating platforms. First, you need to ensure you build the right channels and contexts that make it possible for the transactions and relationships that exist in your ecosystem to happen smoothly and flawlessly. Second, organisations need to look outward, towards customers, providers, third parties that live outside the traditional company boundaries. This process lets people approach the organisation by becoming contributors first, then evolve into members gradually gaining greater decision making and governance power to shape the organisation itself.


Naomi Stanford
Operating, and other, models 
August 2016

EODF Curatorial Board member Naomi Stanford discusses the importance of understanding the difference between an organisation’s business model, strategy and operating model. She argues that in examining these terms in an ordered sequence of steps it enables you to better understand the people, roles, and social organising structures to get the work specified in the operating model accomplished more effectively.


Naomi Stanford
System Thinking v Org Chart
April 2016

EODF Curatorial Board member Naomi Stanford examines the importance of systems theory and discusses how it can be applied at three levels: personal, group and material. Personal influences act on individual motivations (e.g., self-directed learning); group level influences act on employees when operating in teams or groups (e.g., social norms, shared understandings and communities of practice); and material level influences act on organisational structures and processes (e.g., products, technology, environment).


Nicolay Worren
Three Misconceptions about the Matrix Organization, April 2016

The matrix organisation often turns up in conversations about organisation structure, as the ‘ideal’ combination of a functional structure with a business unit structure (such as one based on geography). But what do we talk about when we talk about the matrix organisation? In this blogpost, EODF Curatorial Board member Nicolay Worren clears up some common misconceptions about this model, such as the challenge of working for more than one boss.


Loic Sadoulet
Becoming employee-owned: Why and how to do it
HR Magazine, February 2016

This article explores the potential benefits and necessary building blocks of employee-owned businesses. Focusing on the case study of Agilisys, a software and business service provider, it argues that by owning a significant and meaningful stake in the business employees have a greater say in both how it operates and how they can add value. Research suggests that that employee-owned businesses outgrow and outperform their non-employee-owned counterparts – even during difficult economic periods – and have a happier, more engaged workforce.


Michael Bazigos and Jim Harter
Revisiting the Matrix Organization
McKinsey & Company, January 2016

Recent research by McKinsey and Gallup demonstrates that “clarity of expectations” is necessary for building an engaged workplace. Accordingly, clear and accountable roles are among the most important drivers of organisational health. Taken together, this articles encourages senior and line managers to consider the role of ambiguity that’s all too common in matrix organisations as well as other organisational designs.


Elliott Jaques
Elliott Jaques Levels With You
Strategy+Business, January 2001

This article is a great read, particularly for those who are not familar with Elliott Jaques’ work. Art Kleiner nicely captures the complexity of his personality and the controversy around his work. Discussing the concept of the “requisite” organisation it highlights the relevance of stratification and hierarchy to organisation deisgn.

HRM, culture & organisational development

This theme investigates the relationship between organisation design and organisational development and the implications for human resource management practice and organisational culture.


Naomi Stanford
Designing resilient teams 
October 2018

EODF curatorial board member, Naomi Stanford, provides a summary of her four new masterclasses on team resilience. She focuses on the design aspects of team resilience, not the development aspects. Each summary follows the same three-part format: What’s the idea? How does it work? Try it out


Naomi Stanford, Sadie Sharp, Gary Cookson and Warren Howlett
 A new dawn for OD (Podcast) 
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, July 2018

The practice of organisation design is changing and its profile is growing in the world of work and human resource management. Organisations are looking to organisation design practitioners to help them solve complex challenges. This podcast discusses the role of organisation design in addressing management challenges and provides insight into some of the day-to-day activities of organisation design practitioners.


Yasser Rahrovani et al.
If you cut employees some slack, will they innovate 
Sloan MIT Business Review, May 2018

The idea of using slack resources — in the form of time, technology, and support — to support employee innovation can be a challenging decision for organisational leaders. This article is based on the findings of in-depth interviews of knowledge workers in different industries to understand what motivated them to take risks and explore new ideas. It identifies key support mechanism for implementation and argues that leaders must design, implement and continuously manage slack innovation programs that match the needs of their workforce and innovation needs.


Naomi Stanford
Job description: Dead or alive?
January 2018

 EODF Curatorial Board member, Naomi Stanford, discusses her thoughts on the usefulness of job descriptions. She suggests an alternative approach which focuses on outcomes (contribution and results) instead of inputs (resources usage and activities carried out).


Chris Gagnon, Elizabeth John, and Rob Theunisse
Organization health: A fast track to performance improvement 
McKinsey & Company, September 2017 

This article argues that organisations that work on their health can see improvements in both organisational well-being and financial performance in as little as 6 months. The concept of organisational health is seen to encompass more than culture and employee engagement. It is defined here as an organisation‘s ability to align with a common vision, execute that vision effectively, and renew itself through innovation and creative thinking. The article provides an overview of specific processes and practices that are seen to support organisational health, which can be grouped into the following four key areas: (1) culture; (2) mindsets; (3) team working; and (4) monitoring and feedback loops.


Naomi Stanford
Accountability: is a design concern?
June 2017

EODF Curatorial Board member, Naomi Stanford, discusses accountability from a design perspective and the challenges faced by large networked organisations. She builds on Peter Bregman’s HBRarticle, The Right Way to Hold People Accountable, and argues that as well as focusing on individuals, activities should be extended to include organisational policies, practices, systems and processes, within and across boundaries.


Bill Taylor
5 questions to ask about culture to get beyond the usual meaningless blather
Harvard Business Review, June 2017

This article outlines five questions that organisational leaders must be able to answer if they hope to build better workplaces. These questions address issues of strategy and organisation design, behaviour at work, what make your culture unique, the importance of workplace learning and organisational change. Together these five questions provide a useful blueprint for evaluating the “soft” side of business and organisations.

Naomi Stanford
Astonishment and don’t know
April 2017

EODF Curatorial Board member Naomi Stanford discusses the role of creative thinking and prototyping in organisation design. She discusses the importance of generating ideas from both managers and other employees to tackle complex organisational design problems.


Naomi Stanford
Handling multiple disjointed pieces of design work
May 2017

EODF Curatorial Board member Naomi Stanford discusses how to approach a design project in an organisation where multiple pieces of design work are currently ongoing. She first outlines three possible approaches before recommending the “pragmatic” approach using a “participative design workshop”.


Nicolay Worren
The hidden matrix in your organization
January 2017

EODF Curatorial Board member Nicolay Worren explores the concept of the hidden matrix within organisations. He identifies the distinction between “formal” and “informal” ties and discusses how to uncover the “hidden matrix” in organisations.


Mark LaScola and Peter Turgoose
OD vs OD
On the Mark, October 2016

This blog comments on Rupert Morrison’s blog that compares organisation design and organisational development. Both blog posts draw from Naomi Stanford’s work and argue that in terms of business transformation, the first step is deciding what is the purpose and function of the business: that is the Organisation Design part. The next step is deciding how to maintain the purpose and function: that is the OD or Organisation Development part.


Naomi Stanford
Questions for OD practitioners
October 2016

EODF Curatorial Board member Naomi Stanford poses some fundamental questions for reflection on organisation design theory and practice. She outlines ten key questions for consideration.


Loic Sadoulet
Three Questions to a More Enlightened Business
Insead, July 2016

This article recommends that by regularly “checking-in” with workers, leaders can get a better understanding of how people operate to create emotionally sound organisations able to drive transformational change. Checking in is a concept developed in the airline and education sector and it is a simple technique for employees to help connect with each other by creating a communal focus amongst employees and an increased willingness to cooperate. 

Naomi Stanford
Consulting Skills for HR or not for HR?
May 2016

EODF Curatorial Board member Naomi Stanford examines the intersection of human resource management and organisation design while highlighting the skills and capabilities necessary to be a good organisation design consultant. It suggests that the raison d’etre of good organisation design is people with business skills to provide objective advice and expertise.


Dawna Jones
Can We Design Organizations to Adapt to Change? Or Develop Them?
LinkedIn, April 2016

This article examines the distinction between organisational development and organisational design. It includes a video of Paul Tolchinsky. EODF Cofounder and Curatorial Board member, explaining the difference in less than 2 minutes.


Nicolay Worren
How Leaders Align the Organization with the Strategy 
January 2016

By EODF Curatorial Board member Nicolay Worren discusses some findings on strategy and organsisation design from his recent interviews with five executives of large and complex organisations. He describes a number of common organisation design interventions, sometimes described as “patching”.

Emerging trends

This theme explores emerging trends in organisation design and their implications for management theory and practice.


Phanish Puranam
Is it time to retire the org chart?
INSEAD Knowledge, September 2018

This article discusses the microstructural perspective on organisation design. It suggests that every individual who is responsible for helping a group of people collectively accomplish something is an organisation designer. It debunks the consultant’s best practice approach and highlights that the problems of organising are universal, not the solution. It also includes a supplementary video – Rethinking how organisations work for a digital age.


Sheila Dodge et al.
Breaking logjams in knowledge work?
Sloan Management Review, September 2018

This article explores how “visual management”, a technique often used  in agile project management, can make it easier to apply pull thinking in order to control the number of rhythm of task in a work process. To illustrate, the article examines two recent work-design case studies in medicine and technology.


Natasha Iskander
Design thinking is fundamentally conservative
Harvard Business Review, September 2018

This article argues that design thinking is fundamentally conservative and preserves the status quo. It argues that in order to become more open and democratic design thinking must become more inclusive by better interpreting and incorporating the views of end-users. It proposes an “interpretative engagement” approach which is more agile, on-going and collaborative then a traditional step-by-step design thinking approach.


Nicolay Worren
How an algorithm can improve the design of your organization 
Organization (Re)design, August 2018

Can an algorithm improve the design of your organisation? EODF curatorial board member, Nicolay Worren, discusses Re:config, a decision support tool, that can help practitioners  create more effective organisational models.


Nicolay Worren
The future of organization design according to my students 
Organization (Re)design, June 2018

EODF Curatorial Board member, Nicolay Worren, presents the findings from a recent survey of 50 MBA students at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. The survey asked a set of questions about the future of organisation design. It asked them to consider seven scenarios and the likelihood that they will happen 10 years from now. To share your views on the future of organisation design, you can participate in the survey yourself.


Satya Nadella
Microsoft’s next act 
McKinsey & Company, April 2018

In this interview podcast, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talks about innovation, disruption and organisational change. Other topics discussed include the importance of organisational culture and identify and how to leverage artificial intelligence for business.


Naomi Stanford
Organization Design: The hot topic 
April 2018

EODF Curatorial Board member, Naomi Stanford, discusses new technologies including artificial intelligence, robotics and data tools and their impact on organization designs. She considers issues such as employee monitoring and control, workplace learning and employee redundancy.


James Manyika and Matthew Taylor
Rethinking the workplace: Flexibility, fairness, and enlightened automation 
McKinsey & Company, November 2017

This article summarises a recent interview with Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the London-based Royal Society, on employment practices and the changing modern economy. It covers topics such as flexible working, job quality and design, the impact of technology and the role of public-private partnership. The interview also includes a supplementary video.


Fabrice Roghe et al.
Boosting performance through organization design 
Boston Consulting Group, July 2017

This article reports on the results of a recent BCG survey and outlines six specific factors in organization design that can enable and support a company to become a top performer. The six factors are: (1) agile working; (2) a value-added corporate centre; (3) clear profit and loss responsibilities; (4) a flat structure with a focus on frontline employees; (5) effective use of shared services; and (6)  strong support for people and collaboration.


Panish Puranam
Organisation design based on science, not superstition
Insead, June 2017

This blog introduces the concept of ‘Org 2.0’ – the application of new methodologies based on digitalisation and ‘Big Data’ to enable organisational designers to use rapid prototyping and experimentation to test various ways of organising the firm’s resources. It raises the possibility of new ways of working and collaboration between organisation designers and analytics experts in the field of organisation design.


Jurriaan Kamer
This company achieves 100% customer satisfaction with 0% managers

Corporate Rebels, May 2017
This blog describes how Schuberg Philis, the Dutch professional service firm, functions as an employee-led organisation. It describes how work is organised around small, multi-disciplinary teams who work directly with customers and are responsible for project management and pricing of services. At the individual level, employees play a key role in decision-making and have the autonomy to decide how best to organise work including their own office hours and when they go on holiday. This unique case study provides insight into some of the benefits and challenges of employee-led organisations.


Nicolas Maechler et al.
Finding the right digital balance in B2B customer experience
McKinsey & Company, May 2017

Increasing number of organisations are focusing on digitisation to succeed with customer-centric strategies. This article highlights six journeys that drive customer experience in B2B transactions which can be group into three key areas: delivering the right product and improving the selection process; co-developing products; and customer training and support.


Naomi Stanford
A bit of a Brain-Teaser for you…
September 2016

EODF Curatorial Board member Naomi Stanford discusses the emerging trends in organisation design and their implications for practice. She argues that practitioners could learn from an iterative approach and outlines a suggested approach for tackling complex problems which lack clearly defined parameters.


Global Human Capital Trends 2016 The new organization: Different by design
Deloitte University Press, February 2016

Reporting on the findings of a global survey of over 7,000 human resources and business leaders from 130 countries. From this research emerged 10 trends in organisation design and culture; in learning, leadership, and workforce management; and within the HR function itself. The report includes a video and interactive dashboard that explains the key findings and implications for management practice.


Georges Romme
The Quest for Professionalism
YouTube, February 2016

EODF Curatorial Board member Georges Romme’s book, The Quest for Professionalism, was published last month by Oxford University Press. This video summarises some of his key ideas and findings. Romme stresses the need for management scholars to re-engage in the quest for science-based professionalism, because the societal costs and damage arising from mismanagement and other forms of managerial amateurism are huge.

Register for the monthly
EODF Newsletter!