With new emphasis on innovation, change, and mergers, modern organizations are finding themselves in a new situation of nearly constantly re-designing their organizational chart. According to recent research by McKinsey, 60% of corporate respondents said they experienced an organizational redesign in the past 2 years. And yet, according to the same research, less than a quarter of these redesign efforts succeed. If you plan to re-design your organizational chart, how can you avoid the pitfalls of failure some organizations experience? You can be more intentional about your design.
Architects use a process called “pre-design” that occurs well before a plan, drawing, or creative idea is even produced. In this “pre-design” phase, architects consider the zoning, building codes, long term goals, and expected difficulties that shape the design process. They understand all of their data and restrictions before beginning the arduous process of building the complicated design of a structure.
Why? Imagine this—you’re an architect who has put countless hours, money, and brain power into a flawless building plan when you find out you have to start over because of a remote building code you hadn’t considered. Beyond feeling frustrated, you realize how wasteful you’ve been, too. Designing a structure takes a lot of time, and to find all of that design work was for naught means all of that time, energy, and money was wasted.
So, too, could be the situation for the re-design of your organizational model. If you don’t take the time, care, and precautions to build an intentional new model, you could find yourself much like the architect: frustrated, wasteful, and no closer to a functioning model. However, with the proper gathering of data, planning, and community support, your organizational design could exceed even your own wildest expectations.
Here are five preparatory steps you can take to improve your chances of organizational restructuring success:
1. GATHER AS MUCH CURRENT DATA AS POSSIBLE. Have you heard of the international bank that reengineered their organization by letting go of many, many positions only to realize they made a mistake in calculating the number of positions they had to begin with? It turns out, they let go of too many people because of their error. What a headache—you don’t want to be like them. Get a clear picture of your current situation, then double check the data. Don’t just account for the financial realities—consider the social and organizational data, too. Use 360 surveys to learn key insights about the people side of your organization. Pull the most recent numbers to accurately understand your financial picture. Revisit your most recent organizational design. Take a look at your mission statement. Understand what materials you already have on hand and assess what shape they are in before committing to a new design.
2. Identify your overarching mission. What is your ultimate goal for organizational re-design? What are the driving values that will get you there? As you move through each small step of redesign, keeping the bigger picture in mind will help you move toward a cohesive goal. Perhaps you can identify someone within your organization who is particularly skilled at seeing the bigger picture. Could you task them with helping your team keep the organization’s overarching mission in mind? Otherwise, you may set out with an intention to build a business tower, but the individual building blocks may add up to a hospital building.
3. Brainstorm potential complications. It is so much more fun to think of everything that can go right with a new organizational design. However, considering the potential pitfalls will likely lead to a much more successful outcome. Once you have identified multiple potential designs, make space for a brainstorming session in which you and your team can openly share ideas about the models. Allow ample time for the brainstorming session before moving to the “fix-it” portion of the re-design phase. In fact, consider holding them on different days to allow for completely innovative and judgment-free brainstorming. You would hate to design the perfect house only to realize you made a major mistake… one that your co-architects could have informed you about had you given them the chance.
4. Remember your building materials are people. Creating a new organizational design can be exciting. You may feel tempted, after creating your innovative plan, to expect your coworkers to be equally enthralled. But, unlike an architect, your building materials are not submissive nails and wood. They are people, and you will need to do some work to encourage buy-in for your organizational redesign to work. Which prevailing mindsets will need to shift? How can you go about shifting them? Be ready to role model, explain change, and communicate values. After all, the work is worth it. Unlike building materials, humans provide the possibility for exponential growth. When you create the context for buy-in from your community, your redesign may succeed far beyond your expectations.
5. Identify tools for accountability. Put a plan in place now for measuring both short and long term effects once your redesign is in motion later. How will you know your new organizational design is succeeding? What will that look like? What metrics can you use to measure not only financial markers, but also social and organizational? How can you measure if your long term mission and values are being promoted? When an architect finally passes her plans off to the builder, the builder creates goals: goals around completion time, goals around staying within budgets, goals around customer satisfaction. Define your goals and plot a way to measure them before the roll out even begins.
Whether designing a building or an organization, adequate planning before delivery can make or break your vision. Following these five steps before starting your plan just might be enough to put you in that top quartile of organizational re-design projects that succeed. You also might watch the expansion of your vision, organizational culture, and your profit margin.
If you want to dive more deeply into the steps it takes to powerfully change your organization, check out Yvette Bethel’s book, Interconnectivity, Flow, and Balance. With knowledge gained from over 30 years of Fortune 500 and consulting experience, Yvette shares her rich experience and proprietary model for changing businesses from the inside out. She is also a Preferred Partner of Six Seconds, the largest and most prominent emotional intelligence network in the world.