When it comes to org design…design criteria are fundamental

Thinking about design is hard, but not thinking about it can be disastrous.

Ralph Caplan

I am definitely guilty of watching too many home improvement programmes. As soon as I see Dermot Bannon’s “Room to Improve” ads appear for the next series, I hit the record button straight away. 

The format of the show is familiar. Dermot begins each episode walking the site before a sit down with his new clients to understand their requirements and aspirations.  He leaves with clarity on the design “must dos”. 

When he returns with his miniature model of the new design, his clients weigh up the concept against their “wish list”. Because he has taken the time to understand the client’s needs and the pros & cons of the site, more often than not the clients are delighted with how the high-level concept meets their brief. And then the construction fun begins!

In the very same way, any organisation design exercise needs clear design criteria. Design criteria will set out what the new design must do well and will identify ‘problems’ which must be solved for. 

Without a good set of design criteria as the ‘north star’ there are multiple possibilities as to how an organisation could be organised and no objective measures to evaluate the options against.

As such, at the outset of any organisation design exercise it’s crucial to spend time getting to know the organisation and its strategic ambitions, in order to co-create an informed set of organisation design criteria. The organisational models created on the back of these criteria are so much richer as a result.