Organisational design, the dark art of any company restructure

Article By
James Cumming
James Cumming
Posted On25th February 2021
Posted On25th February 2021
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Organisational design, the dark art of a company restructure… the past 12 months have seen limited strategic change initiatives, my guess is that OD is going to be one of the most sought after skill-sets in 2021.

This increase in strategic change is likely to be accelerated as a result of the pandemic.

Although, the continuous disruption of industries means that companies now need regular shake-ups in order to succeed over the long-term.

As many leaders will already know, a high number of change programmes fail, with a large percentage simply running out of steam. In other cases, some fail to meet their objectives or improve performance once implemented. Could this be down to the organisational design or the actual implementation of the new model?

In a study conducted by Mckinsey, they found that; “the most successful organizations combine stable design elements with dynamic elements that change in response to evolving markets and new strategic directions. Corporate redesigns give organizations a rare opportunity to identify the stable backbone and set up those elements ripe for dynamic change.” The most successful companies see organisational redesign as a chance to rebuild the landscape and direct the future of the company.

What is ‘Organisation Design’ all about these days?


Today, organisational design involves the processes that people follow, the management of individual performance, the recruitment of top talent as well as the development of employee’s skills. When the redesign of a company lines up with its strategic intentions, there is a higher chance of employees being able to execute and successfully deliver these changes.

All organisational change programmes should start with corporate self-reflection. Asking questions about the purpose and direction of your company is surprisingly effective when it comes to keeping the focus on a new design strategy.

A study conducted by Deloitte echoed this sentiment – it found that whilst effective organisation design delivers significant improvements in business performance, most companies fail as they don’t go far enough in addressing real organisational or structural issues, and that; “businesses embark on organisation design projects in search of benefits they can’t achieve through organisation design alone—or even at all.”

But – all hope is not lost! There are things you can do to encourage a successful redesign.

How can you get it right?


  • Spend time to define the purpose of the organisation. It is critical to engage with leaders and people in the business to ensure that they buy into the change – before decisions are made.
  • One of the key aspects of any change programme is to get the new changes to last! Make sure that you put time and resource into business change, which will likely include significant cultural change, comms and training. Otherwise, employees may revert to how they previously operated.
  • Interim executives have proven experience in moving the programme forward towards implementation. Typically, it’s right after the management consultancies have developed the top-level strategy.
  • Lastly, you’ll want to assemble a leadership team that has the right capability and is bought into the new strategy.

James Cumming is our MD, Interim and Transformation Search specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


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