I just returned from Frankfurt where I participated in the first meeting of EODF – a European community of people interested in organisation design. We were a small group of participants from Britain, Germany, Austria, the US, the Netherlands, and Norway (myself). We hope to attract a lot more people – from many more countries – at the next meeting.
We were pleased to be joined by two leading academics, namely Andrew Campbell (pictured below) from the Ashridge Strategic Management Centre and Georges Romme from the Eindhoven University of Technology.
I gave a talk based on a project I did this Summer together with an internal consultant in a financial services group, providing a brief introduction to functionally based analysis of organizational structures. You can view the slide sets I used below.
A particularly interesting discussion, I found, dealt with the future of organization design. This discussion was initiated by Tim Pidsley of the consulting firm Tricordant, who captured our ideas about how organization will be done in 2021 on the flip chart shown below.
The key items listed here were about:
- Using methods and tools from product design to design organizations (this is already happening to some extent)
- Organization design as an “embedded activity”, i.e., something that is done on a continuous rather than an episodic basis
- New ways of visualizing organizations (no longer reliant on organization charts)
- Using “crowdsourcing” to engage a larger group (perhaps outsiders) in suggesting design ideas
- Greater use of data-driven, analytical tools – away with the educated guesswork (or worse, political and ad hoc decision making) that characterize design processes today
- The use of simuation and modelling tools to visualize and predict the implications of making organizational changes.
- New ways of designing interconnected enterprises (networks of firms).
I touch on some of these future developments in the textbook I have written, and was glad to see that others seem to agree where the field might be heading and what potential there is to raise the discipline to a new level. At the same time, naming the trends is one thing, a lot of conceptual and practical work will be required to introduce and facilitate the adoption of new organization design methods. Hopefully, the EODF and similar communities in the US and in Africa may play a positive role in this.