Articles


Below are summaries and links to articles we have written on specific organization design aspects in various journals.

CEOs CAN MAKE (OR BREAK) AN ORGANIZATION REDESIGN

Organization redesigns consume significant time, resources, and emotional energy. The article in the MIT Sloan Management Review provides a thoughtful and pragmatic design framework to guide executives throughout the process. It also shows how CEOs should start the process with some honest introspection about their own behavioral tendencies and vulnerabilities, and what actions they can take to prevent the redesign exercise from derailing.

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HOW TO DESIGN AN ORGANIZATION TO ENABLE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE COMPANY’S SUSTAINABILITY AGENDA

“Sustainability” has risen to the top of the executive agenda. What gets less attention, is the nitty-gritty of organizing for sustainability and assigning roles and responsibilities. The article in Strategy & Leadership offers a framework to make those design choices, starting from two considerations: the substantive focus of the company’s sustainability agenda, and the principles by which the company is organized in general.

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WHEN TO CHANGE YOUR COMPANY’S P&L RESPONSIBILITIES

Changing an organization’s primary dimension, i.e., making a different choice of which verticals have full P&L responsibility, is not something to get into lightly. The article in the Harvard Business Review provides answers to the two key questions executives should ask when considering a major rearrangement. First, when has the time come to change our primary dimension? Second, once we have decided to change, how fast should we go?

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MAKING SILOS WORK FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION

Incitements to “bust the silos” within organizations are quite popular. Silos (or “verticals”) indeed have undesirable side effects such as insular mindsets and turf wars. But they exist for good reasons: to aggregate expertise, assign accountability, and provide a sense of identity. The article in the Harvard Business Review explains how to preserve the strengths of the inescapable verticals while minimizing their side effects: build bridges between verticals and institute checks and balances.

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A SMARTER PROCESS FOR MANAGING AND EXPLAINING ORGANIZATION DESIGN CHANGE

An organization design is never perfect – but at some point you’ve got to decide and go for the “least bad” design. Afterwards you continually add checks and balances to make up for the imperfections, until your organization gets completely unwieldy and triggers a wholesale redesign. The article in Strategy & Leadership presents guidelines for explaining and managing this inescapable cycle, and thus preventing cynicism about “yet another organization change”.

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WHEN TO DECENTRALIZE DECISION MAKING, AND WHEN NOT TO

Debates about centralization vs. decentralization are often fraught with emotion and protectiveness. On the one hand, business responsiveness calls for decentralization of decision-making to the operating units. On the other hand, concerns about business reliability, efficiency and perennity may pull the other way. The article in the Harvard Business Review presents a proven way of thinking to help rationalize that debate.

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HOW TO WRITE A COMPANY VALUE STATEMENT THAT WILL ACHIEVE STRATEGIC IMPACT

Stated values at most companies fail to have much of an impact: they don’t boost performance, they don’t set the company apart, and they don’t steer employee behavior. That is because they are defined as generic, non-negotiable points of perfection. The article in Strategy & Leadership presents a novel approach that leads to values that do reveal and reinforce the company’s distinct and desired culture.

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MAKING MATRIX ORGANIZATIONS ACTUALLY WORK

A matrix is a tool to strengthen lateral coordination. When deployed sparingly and wisely, a matrix can improve the quality and speed of decision-making without obfuscating accountability. The article in the Harvard Business Reviewbriefly describes five guidelines for doing so. The goal is to gain enough trust in the matrix to let it do its work, sensing the matrix is there without noticing it.

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HOW GLOBAL IS YOUR C-SUITE?

By analyzing the prevalence of non-native CEOs at the largest global companies, the article in the MIT Sloan Management Review indicates what companies can do to attract diverse management talent from outside their home country. By the same token, it informs aspiring managers about the data they should gather to identify companies outside their home country offering the most promising career prospects.

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