(Re-) Designing Organizations Lessons from the field

About this research


Our research aimed to find out about the lived experience of organizations that had gone through a re-design process. However helpful theory can be, our own experience of the lived reality of organization re-designs often seemed to be much more complex, contextual and richly layered than described in textbooks.

What had it been like and felt like? What had worked? What hadn’t? What would a senior manager do differently next time, facing a similar need to re-design?

Who took part?

We approached clients and non-clients of Ashridge, the only criteria being that we had not worked with them on their restructuring project as external advisers. Through colleague contacts and introductions at various speaking events, we identified 25 organizations that were willing to participate. The organizations were predominately European-based corporates with a small number of public sector organizations.

Interviewees, all of whom had been involved in a recent re-design process, worked in a variety of roles:

  • HR Director
  • HR Business Partner
  • VP Finance & IT
  • Director of Strategy & Transformation
  • Leadership Development Director
  • Director of Business Improvement
  • Commercial Director
  • Managing Director

What did we find?

  1. Non-HR leaders were more likely to think immediately about re-structuring rather than a wider range of design factors
  2. Projects were resourced and led in very different ways (and a range of models are presented in the report)
  3. The degree of engagement in the process of re-design varies hugely, from involving the whole organization, to involving no-one
  4. There is a ‘dirty secret’ in organization design that decision making is often highly political and subjective
  5. Managers need to decide whether to move fast or take the time to engage and do it properly

Research team

Dev Mookherjee and Philippa Hardman

Contributors:  Sally Hulks, Simon Martin, Stefan Cousquer, Ayiesha Russell, Andrew Campbell, Grace Brown and Marion Devine.

Download the report

Full Report Organization-Redesign-Report-2016

How can I find out more?

Email Dev Mookherjee at dev.mookherjee@ashridge.hult.edu