Your Organizational Design: Build a Brick House, Not a “Tree House”

By The Intersect Group

“There are two different ways to think about organizational design. One is the ‘tree house’ model, which is, ‘I build my tree house; I add onto it; I add different rooms. I add different plumbing, a little bit of A/C, and there I have my structure.’ However, the better way is to design it and build it from the foundation up. You have to think about a master plan and then execute on that plan.” – Catherine Dixon, Principal, ghSMART

The Intersect Group recently hosted a panel partnering with the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business to discuss strategies and best practices for organizational design and managing through a corporate reorganization.

The Intersect Group pulled together a caucus of esteemed experts in their field to participate in this educational, thought-provoking panel:

  • Bruce Elder, Principal at ghSMART
  • Jill Wilson, SVP, Human Resources and Talent Management at Carter’s
  • Peter Fante, Chief Legal Officer and Chief Compliance Officer at Verint Systems
  • Elizabeth Holmes, SVP, IT Governance and Quality Assurance at Elavon
  • Jill Robinson, SVP, CFO of McKesson Provider Technologies, a division of McKesson Corporation

Former Intersect Practice Director and current Principal at consulting firm ghSMART Catherine Dixon moderated the event, and the panelists gave attendees an insightful, exclusive look at the inner workings of a well-designed, corporate or departmental reorganization.

We’ve summarized the panelists’ take-home messages here:

  1. Focus on Customer Centricity – First, when deciding whether or not now is an appropriate time for organizational redesign, think first about your customers’ needs. Ask yourself and your peers, “Would reorganization improve customer outcomes?”
  2. Create Palpable Forms of Measurement – If your company does land on reorganization, make sure there are metrics and screens in place for measuring success. Strategically defining your business’s strategy is necessary for a successful reorganization. The key is to start with seven or eight screens that are most important to meeting your business needs. These screens will allow for accountability throughout as well as after the process.
  3. Seek Objective Feedback – Bring in stakeholders who are invested in the company but also bring in outside consultants without bias who can view the organization with a fresh outlook.
  4. Think Holistically, Not Individually – Do NOT design your reorganization around people. Oftentimes, companies go through reorganization because of one specific employee.
  5. Articulate Roles – Include career paths and succession paths for each employee affected by the reorganization. Laying out a clear outline of how each person’s role may or may not be affected will make for a less stressful transition.
  6. Know When to Outsource – When determining how work will be divided among full-time employees and contractors, ask yourself these two questions: Is the set of skills in question a competitive differentiator? Is it a core competency? If the skills in question are neither a competitive differentiator nor core competency, it may be wise to outsource that role.
  7. Keep the Lines Open – Most importantly, make communication with staff, customers and partners a priority throughout the reorganization. According to panelist Jill Wilson, the average adult needs to hear something SEVEN times before truly comprehending it.

We believe this is all good advice from a well respected group of industry experts. The Intersect Group is here for your company in tumultuous times, especially during reorganization. From staffing to consulting needs, our flexible delivery model is designed to assist your company throughout each stage of organizational design.