Home Paper: Re-design your Organisation to Empower your Employees
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Re-design your Organisation to Empower your Employees to Perform

 What good organisational redesign achieves

Good organisational design provides access to the skills and knowledge needed to implement organisational strategy. Great design goes further; it empowers managers and employees, giving them the autonomy, resources and organisational support they need to work effectively. 

The purpose of organisational re-design (or re-structuring) is to ensure that people are employed within a structure that both enables and encourages them to make the full range of their expertise available to the task of implementing of the organisation’s strategies.    People are enabled by giving them the resources they need to do so, the autonomy and authority to make necessary decisions and the access they need to expertise in other parts of the organisation.     

Some people feel that re-design is only important for large organisations.  I beg to differ.  Small, but growing businesses can also benefit from a dispassionate review of how their employees are arranged in their structure.   These structures have usually grown piecemeal in response to issues that were urgent at the time but may have since lost their relevance.   Similarly, one need not re-design a whole organisation.  A division or business unit within a large organisation can be redesigned to use its own people more cost-effectively or to improve its fit with the rest of the organisation.

Organisation re-design Vs Restructure

I try to avoid the use of the term ‘re-structure’ because it is so often associated with downsizing.  True, some organisations may be downsized because of re-design, but it should not be assumed that smaller is necessarily better.    Similarly there has been a craze lately to reduce the number of levels in organisations on the assumption that ‘flatter is always better’.    Sometimes this is true; it removes bureaucracy, improves customer focus and makes people more accessible.  In other cases, it causes fewer and fewer middle managers to do the work of many with the result that the important (strategic) work is lost at the expense of the urgent (operational) work.   The point that I am making is that there is no one right design or structure that will suit all organisations.  The structure must be aligned to the particular strategies the organisation is pursuing. 

Organisational Designs that Assist Change

There is, however one well-founded strategy for designing ‘change readiness’ into an organisations.    It is to identify processes that naturally run across organisational boundaries and to make employees accountable for the outcomes of these processes as well as through their reporting lines in the structure.    The two most common forms of this are what I call the Customer Focus Structure and the Resource Allocation Structure.    Both use internal customer / supplier relationships between organisational units.    The decision as to who is the customer and who is the supplier is critical and must be determined by the organisation’s strategic direction.     The internal customer is empowered by the process.

The Customer Focus structure should be used when the strategy has indicated that service delivery units need the power to mobilise the whole of the organisation’s resources to satisfy their, (the service delivery unit’s), customers.     For example, when service delivery units are geographically based and supply generalist services directly to their customers but their customers also require occasional access to technical services that are provided by other parts of the company.  In this case, the technical service units become internal suppliers and the customer service units the internal customers.

The Resource Allocation Structure is used where the strategy has indicated the need for both centralised strategy development and for service delivery units to interpret the strategy to satisfy local needs.   For example, the organisation is funded to design and deliver government programs.    Centralised program managers design the programs and control the organisation’s resources.   Geographically based units deliver the programs’ services to their community.  In this case, the program mangers become the internal customers of the service delivery units by only funding services that fit within their programs.

For further assistance visit the Change & Perform Organisational Redesign Service  or contact Kerry Feldman


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Last Updated on Saturday, 23 January 2010 03:51
To discuss how we could help your organisation, contact Kerry on Email, LinkedIn or phone (02) 97063522 or 0419 474 432.