Organization design practices in a changing world of work | Inquirer Business
Tita Talks Organization Development

Organization design practices in a changing world of work

RECENTLY, I got a frantic call from a newly appointed CEO to do a “rush job”. It is to review the design of his organization in a day. As we all know, a lot of failures in organization development interventions are linked to organizational restructuring.

There are in fact many other organizational levers that can effectively be enhanced such as values, strategy, leadership style, systems etc. If indeed organization structure or design is the challenge, then careful thought has to be put into the initiative. And definitely, it cannot be revised in a day. All that can be done is to do focus in group discussions on the “pains” or “challenges of the organization linked to structure.


What are the common problems that organizations are facing today? One, is rapid advances in technology and communications. Recently, a management team faced a dilemma, how can they design the digital organization for technology that still has to emerge. During the discussions several options in terms of steps emerged. One person volunteered to check out the researches done by Futuristic Societies in Silicon Valley and other technology centers in the world. Another lady offered to explore the use of Theory U in brainstorming possible options. It also means doing work designed and managed by virtual teams

Theory U as introduced by the Presencing Institute proposes “that the quality of results that we create in any kind of social system is a function of the quality of awareness, attention or consciousness that participants operate from”. Emerging in 2006 it is viewed mainly as “framework and method for leading profound change and as a way of being connected to more authentic and higher aspects of change.”


Two is global competition and complexity as work cross lines of time, culture and geography. Today, specially, in our country where business process services continue to grow and thrive, we have benefitted from companies who feel “at home here”, having outsourced some functions and gaining competitive advantage in cost and quality of service. Once again the challenge is to find the right structures and processes. The work force and customer base is changing in terms of age, gender, race, national orientation etc.

Three is speed of responsiveness or agility, Organizations have to respond quickly and decisively to environment changes, organizational crisis and shifting customer expectations. Organizations able to respond rapidly to shifts win. They expect the unexpected and respond quickly to rapid change and crisis. Recently I attended a forum who had two interesting speakers one from Google and the other from Uber. Clearly the basis for today’s economy has become information, more than machines and factories.

Fourth is the focus on ethics and social responsibility. In the digital environment, how do leaders ensure ethical practices? How can they respond to pressure from the public who demand highly, ethical and moral standards of operating?

IMPORTANCE OF ORGANIZATIONSMore than ever, organizational growth is importance. They bring together resources that achieve goals and outcomes, they produce goods and services efficiently, use modern manufacturing and information technologies and encourage innovation. It is the organization that adapts to the ever changing environment and creates value for owners, customers and employees.

Only the open space approach can work considering the external environment it is dynamic and often unpredictable. The open systems approach has been defined as “a set of interacting elements that acquires inputs from the external environment, transforms them and discharges outputs such as products and services to the external environment”.

Some guidelines that have ensured successful organization design and restructuring assistance to our clients over the years encompass are the following: One, is to consider the external environment striving for a balance between change and order, rationality and flexibility.

Two, design the organization maintaining a balance among the different functions. Think of the organization made up of 3 distinct components: the functions, the processes and the individuals in it. Four, consider the needs and interests of all major stakeholder when setting goals and designing the organization for effectiveness.


Fifth, all organizational systems are unique and different. Identify the correct strategy, goals and management systems for each organization and build the right structure. Today the trend leans towards more horizontal and modular rather than vertical and hierarchical. Typically, routine work is outsourced but strategic work is kept in house. Sixth, manage collaboration separated by geography and time zones, creating an environment of openness, trust and understanding. And finally, develop leaders with the right competencies.

Allocate adequate time, resources and thinking time, as CEO you truly see organization design as the core challenge moving forward!
Tita Datu Puangco is the President and Chairman of the Board of Ancilla Enterprise Development Consulting, a major training and organization development company in the Philippines with an Asian reach. It specializes in enterprise transformation, executive coaching, corporate leadership and functional training, human resource systems, learning events and management of business training centers. Visit Tita’s Blog at http://titatalkstraining. For additional information please email author at [email protected] or at [email protected])

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TAGS: competition and complexity, Organizations, rapid technology
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