A lot of effort goes into redesigning an organisation.

Typically, we work with our clients to:

  1. Carry out detailed upfront planning
  2. Develop guiding principles and objectives for the future design
  3. Complete a full analysis of the current organisation (both qualitative and quantitative)
  4. Design future processes, accountabilities, structures and governance to deliver the business outcomes they want.

By this point, the leaders involved in the design will be clear about their vision and invested in the future designs they have created for their functions.

It’s easy to think the hard work has been done.

However, like any change, a successful outcome depends on effective implementation.

Organisation design projects are amongst the most sensitive changes to deliver, as they introduce change that has a direct impact on the things people really care about – their roles, reporting lines, and ways of working.

In the worst-case scenario, some people will lose their job. This affects not only those whose roles are proposed for redundancy but their colleagues as well, as they naturally feel empathy for their workmates and are concerned about the potential impact on their workload and the wider business.

When planning for implementing this type of change with our clients, we find it helpful to anticipate and mitigate risk.

We commonly find clients are facing one or more of the following risks:

3d 7 on a green background

1. Disruption to business as usual

To mitigate this risk
  • Develop an internal communication plan including clear messaging on the rationale for the change and importance of focus on the day job
  • Provide managers with training, tools and tactics to avoid performance dips
  • Identify business-critical roles and increase focus/support
  • Ensure positive leadership role modelling and support for colleagues

2. Limited capability of line managers to manage teams through the change

To mitigate this risk
  • Be compassionate – recognise the toll this type of change takes on all those affected
  • Bring in change management expertise to support change impact assessment, planning and execution
  • Run line manager training and drop in sessions
  • Provide communication scripts and walkthroughs
  • Develop Q&A to cover expected FAQ from colleagues
  • Provide support from line managers and HR

3. Flight of key talent as disruption causes people to leave

To mitigate this risk
  • Ensure top talent is placed in critical roles
  • Identify ‘flight risk’ roles and build communication plan
  • Ensure positive and supportive leadership
  • Consider financial incentives (golden handcuffs)

4. New and expanded roles are difficult for people to execute

To mitigate this risk
  • Agree clear accountabilities and responsibilities with individuals
  • Provide support and resources to ensure they are properly equipped to handle the scope of the role

5. Loss of expertise from people leaving the business

To mitigate this risk
  • Ensure transition periods to allow handover from subject matter experts
  • Provide training and support to remaining subject matter experts as appropriate
  • Treat every leaver as a possible returner – treat people well and they will be more likely to support knowledge transfer activities (and speak positively about your brand)

6. Negative PR, which impacts customers, partners and/or suppliers

To mitigate this risk
  • Identify key external stakeholders
  • Build and execute external communications plan
  • Articulate compelling business case
  • Develop Q&A to cover expected FAQ from external parties

7. Declaring victory too soon without embedding the new design and ways of working

To mitigate this risk
  • Build in a period of ‘hypercare’ after the change
  • Ensure ongoing monitoring of change impacts
  • Measure and communicate the benefits of the change
  • Provide support and reinforcement and adapt approach where needed

No change can be executed perfectly, especially when not everyone will be happy with the new world. However, being aware of and mitigating these risks will help the change go as smoothly as possible.

We help clients redesign their businesses to support new strategies, scale for growth, improve effectiveness, reduce costs, and more, while mitigating the inherent risks.

If you’d like to talk to us about how we could help you, please get in touch.

Images (c) Shutterstock | Chokniti-Studio

Helena Miles