Globalisation and recurrent shocks to the economy push organizations to reinvent themselves perpetually. But very often, when there is a change in the higher-level strategy, the design of the organization is left unrevised.
• • •
We define organization design as a process for shaping the way organizations are structured and run. It involves many different aspects of work: team formations, changes in team culture(s), decision-making processes, communication channels, and more. The design of the organization also dictates the relationship between roles, workflows, procedures, structures and systems, and therefore, how people function.
Inconsistency between your higher-level strategy and your organization design can result in unnecessary ambiguity, confusion and a loss of morale within your team members.
If you’re ready to reevaluate the ways you work, our process will help you perfect your organization’s design and pursue your purpose with less friction and more agility.
• • •
In the following paragraphs, we will introduce you to the basic tenets of our 4-step process.
#1 Turn your purpose into performance
Your purpose is your greatest resource. It’s greater than any monetary asset and it has direct implications for your bottom line. Purpose will get you the best talent, keep your talent engaged and committed, and draw their support through times of exponential change.
Gartenberg study, which included 500,000 people across 429 firms and involved 917 firm-year observations from 2006 to 2011 — suggests a positive impact on both operating financial performance (return on assets) and forward-looking measures of performance (Tobin’s Q and stock returns) when the purpose is communicated with clarity.
This is why the first step of our process is to clarify your purpose, mission and vision, and the kind of company you want to become. What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?
Inspired leaders and inspired teams all think, act and communicate from the vantage point of their purpose.
This is process is what we call ‘internalizing your purpose.’ We develop tailored design sprints for all the levels of your company to aid your team in finding stability in change, through a clear vision of a shared purpose.
#2 Activate your purpose through metrics, roles, and accountabilities
When your purpose is internalized, it’s time to make it actionable: translate it into metrics, roles, and accountabilities.
There is a whole process for operationalizing your purpose through tangible targets. We work with you through individual coaching, goal-setting workshops and design sprints to make sure all your goals are S-M-A-R-T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based).
We often work with the OKR (objectives and key results) framework which helps defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes. OKRs comprise an objective (a clearly defined goal) and one or more key results (specific measures used to track the achievement of that goal). The idea is that all parts of a company — the department, the team and even individual employees — not only set themselves clear objectives, but pursue “key results” that help them get there.
Finally, clear metrics are essential, but the link between roles, accountabilities and team structure is key to make sure expectations are kept healthy.
Overworking and underproducing both have bad effects on your bottom line, therefore in this step of the process, we make sure your tasks are well defined and all accountabilities are clear.
#3 Keep communication human with the right tools and formats
Despite humans venerating machines, we don’t act like machines. We are social beings evolved to work collaboratively. Meetings are not only an ancient form of working together but also the best place to design collective rituals through which you can nourish your culture and strengthen your organizational resilience.
Due to a lack of ‘meeting training’ in most companies, meetings tend to be a hit-and-miss many times. From the lack of preparation, to a lack of appropriate content and format, meeting practices are often stale and bearing no tangible outcomes.
We define meetings as rituals through which processes get legitimized and teams get the necessary support to stay aligned with your purpose and metrics. Meetings are vessels through which you can initiate and oversee the completion of any goal.
If meetings have a clear purpose, an agenda that drives decisions and actions forward and also an open space for discussing and resolving emerging issues, your talent will thrive. Thus we put a strong emphasis on creating human-centred meeting formats for better collaboration.
This often involves a complete rehaul of the organization’s communication infrastructure. Meetings can happen offline and online, through async communication channels and instant messaging, watercooler chats and kitchen talks. We believe it’s essential for your organization to have the right tools and the right processes for facilitating goal-oriented meetings while still leaving space for serendipitous encounters.
Three of the main meeting formats we are working with: tactical meetings to align on operational work, governance meetings to modify the structure, and stand-ups to align on daily/weekly work.
Through working with you closely, we guide you through mastering these meeting formats, select the right communication channels and finetune the way information circulates in your specific context and environment.
#4 Cultivate a kinship-based culture, refine, and iterate
We believe your culture is your greatest strength. If it’s designed correctly, it will help your team develop an awareness of belonging to something bigger, through the process of sense-making: a shared understanding borne out of a plurality of perspectives.
Culture is more than just patterns of behaviour within an organization, it’s a framework that helps its members navigate reality and provide the basis for shared action.
We believe in cultivating kinship-based organizational cultures.
We define kinship as a subtle psychological phenomenon arising in social encounters in the individual and having an effect on the group level. It’s an affinity to the other, an empathic potential that can activate belonging and togetherness; an implicit agreement safeguarding the individual’s integrity in relation to the group.
>> To read more about our idea of kinship-based cultures, click here.
In the fourth and last stage of your organization design, we support you to develop a kinship-based culture by designing daily operations that make sure all team members are aligned with the tactical, governance and emotional layers of your organizational purpose. We do this through a team-based training system and individual coaching that unleashes your team’s potential and helps them move from finding-problems-mode into finding-solutions-mode.
Last but not least, we strongly believe that no methodology is perfect and real transformation comes from continuous iteration and a true commitment to change. In the fourth step of our process, we put a strong emphasis on iteration. We do this through periodic revision cycles in the form of agile retrospectives when we evaluate your progress and tweak your internal processes. This will make sure your internal operating system is always up to date and incorporates feedback from all the levels of your organization.