Culture in crisis 4. Once the novelty wears off…

Aug 11th

In a crisis, people pull together. Competition and disagreements are swept away, replaced by collaboration to get things done. We often hear, ‘If only we could always operate the way we did in the crisis’.

Recent Pulse surveys across organisations show marked uplifts in scores on engagement and confidence in senior leadership along with other key metrics of a high-performing organisation. It’s as if they needed a terrible external crisis to strengthen purpose, collective leadership and motivation.

Feedback reveals changes valued by employees, including ‘Home working has shown we can be trusted’ and


Culture in crisis 3. Black Lives Matter – transforming inclusion and diversity

Jul 28th

As a society and in business we have taken steps towards an intent of equal opportunity. But the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement that exploded after George Floyd’s killing in the US has penetrated our consciousness in unexpected ways, leading many to question themselves quite deeply. Organisations and individuals are confronting difficult truths.

One is that we measure progress on equality of opportunity by numbers: hitting diversity targets, counting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people recruited. Some organisations use these numbers as a proxy for genuine engagement on inclusion


Culture in crisis 2. Two paths out of crisis

Jul 22nd

As organisations grapple with extraordinary conditions, many have turned to centralised decision-making, seeking tighter grip through command and control.

In the best cases this has meant clear and consistent messages across the workforce, showing much-needed confidence in leadership. In a crisis, people look to leaders to reduce the impact of loss of control, uncertainty and confusion.

In the worst cases, leadership teams and managers have withdrawn into a bunker, focusing on the single priority of survival. With no organisational leadership, anxiety and fear of the future escalates for employees, damaging productivity, energy and


Culture in crisis 1. Collaboration’s missing ingredient

Jul 14th

The structures of tasks, specialisation and accountability in the pre-Covid business went hand in hand with assumptions about location and physical footprint of the business. As these assumptions are forced to change, a new way of operating is emerging. Due to the demands of the Covid-19 crisis, new ways of working have sprung up with many more people working from home and in small, collaborative teams.

So, how to seize this new collaboration and make it as effective virtually as it is in person?

Collaboration: working together on a common goal has 4


Principles for principles

Apr 11th

What do we mean by organisation design principles?

When I’m asked to help define the principles for an organisation redesign, the first stage usually ends up as a long shopping list of what people wish for.  The hard work in the next stage is unpacking the different kinds of things that people call ‘principles’ and then excavating, boiling down, negotiating and refining into a usable set of principles for organisation design.

The root of the word ‘principle’ is in the notion of what you ‘first catch’, hence the idea of a principle being first


Why structure is good and more structure may be better…

Apr 05th

 ‘There’s a whole lot of new ideas on org design out there – flatter, more agile, non-hierarchical, cellular, networked – how to know what might help in our reorganisation?’

You want to find an organisation design and structure that won’t just not get in the way of organisation performance but will help drive results by allowing the work, the information and the energy of people to flow. You want an organisation design that will be able to shift and re-balance itself in an agile way to respond to or anticipate changes


Designing an organisation that works for the people in it

Mar 28th

How to judge an organisation design: Part 3
“How do you think people are going to take to the new design? How can we show the benefits to them?”

You have been understanding, testing, probing the org design to see if it stacks up, but you will also have been getting to grips with the people dimensions too. First thoughts may have been about the simple but difficult issues that are going to consume time in the future like filling new roles, redeployment, selection processes, the pipeline of talent, redundancies, the programme of change


Reality testing an organisation design

Mar 14th

How to judge an organisation design: Part 2
“I can see what you are trying to achieve with the organisation design.  I’ve got some questions to kick the tires on it a bit harder. Can we find time to talk?”

You probably knew that ‘organisation’ as a relatively modern word first meant the structure of a living being, a whole with interdependent parts. But did you know that ‘organisation’, ‘energy’, ‘work’ all come from the same root concept, over 4000 years ago, meaning ‘work’, ‘to do’, ‘be effective’? The organic metaphor for organisation is