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Hult Research has released a report on the research conducted by Philippa Hardman and Dev Mookherjee on redesigning organizations – an evolution of the infamous “reorg”.

As Hardman and Mookherjee point out in their introduction, changing the structure and design of an organization used to be an exceptional event. In these turbulent and complex times, however, redesign has become more and more frequent and is viewed by many as an ongoing and continuous process. Despite this increased frequency, organizations tend to find redesigns challenging processes that often don’t address the problems they set out to resolve.

In their report for Hult Research (Re-)designing Organizations – Lessons from the Field, Hardman and Mookherjee set out the learnings from their research and the implications for practitioners embarking on a redesign of their own organization.

The authors say of their methodology: “In undertaking our research we weren’t interested in theory, however helpful this can be. We wanted to find out about the lived experience of organizations that had gone through a re-design process as our own experience of the lived reality of organization re-designs often seemed to be much more complex, contextual and richly layered than described in textbooks. What had it been like and felt like? What had worked? What hadn’t? What would a senior manager do differently next time, facing a similar need to re-design?”

Here, we outline 7 tips for anyone considering a “reorg”, restructure, or revisiting the design of their organization. Full details on the findings from this research can be found in the full report.

  1. Decide whether restructuring is actually required or whether a similar outcome could be achieved by changing other elements of the organization instead (for example, work processes).
  2. Choose a re-design project resourcing model that is appropriate for your organization and the scale of the change required. The resourcing archetypes set out in this report may help in this.
  3. Use consultancy support wisely. Be clear from the outset about what type of support you want and where you want consultants to focus. Make sure the consultants transfer their knowledge across to your people. Be clear which role you would need the consultants to play: ‘Expert’ – where the consultant provides expert input when 7. required; ‘Pair of Hands’ – where the organization is resource constrained and the consultant fills a resource gap; or ‘Collaborative’ – where the consultant brings their expertise to work alongside an organizational client with knowledge of their own organization (Block, P.,1999).
  4. Manage expectations about timing and process with all key stakeholders and with all those likely to be affected by the change.
  5. Recognize, accept and, where possible, address the fact that decision-makers often start with people in mind for specific roles in what should really be an objective process where structures and roles are still to be defined.
  6. Be honest and authentic. Don’t pretend you are genuinely interested in getting people’s input and finding out their points of view if you are going to do nothing further with this intelligence. Choose whether you are using a ‘persuasive engagement’ approach (where you have made a decision and are looking to persuade others to implement) or a ‘collaborative engagement’ approach where you seek to get input to possible approaches (Hardman and Nichols, 2011).
  7. When the re-design involves redundancies, remember the people who remain in-post. Pay attention to their needs, whether these entail psychological support or re-training. Don’t simply offload the work of those made redundant onto these “survivors.”


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