Organised Desire…

It seems to be very normal for us to focus on Organisational Design. Indeed Organisational Design is one of the things I have been working on (with a team of great colleagues) over most of the last two weeks – first in Princeton and then in Indianapolis. Although to tell the truth, I sometimes feel that Organisational Design has been a major focus for me – in one way or another – over most of the last fifteen years!

Organisational Design is important – absolutely. The design of an Organisation will have significant impact on the ability of that Organisation to be successful and of colleagues within that organisation to be successful. Organisational design can look at leaders, strategy, scope, layers, numbers of reports, local vs. global and centralised vs. distributed. All of these aspects – and others – have impact, real impact…and it is essential that these are always assessed and addressed.

And I also have no doubt (and have seen real data) that organisations who decrease layers, or increase numbers of reports; organisations that identify optimum balance between local and global reporting relationships, between centralised and distributed services, can be more successful and do have more empowered and engaged colleagues.

But Organisational Design by itself is never enough. And for this reason I like the parallel concept of Organisational Desire. For an organisation to be truly successful and admired, and for colleagues who create the organisation to be genuinely motivated and empowered, it is essential to understand and mobilise the desire. What is the desire of an organisation, or – more specifically – of the colleagues within that organisation. And this is the key. We are talking about the desires of colleagues who make up an organisation…what do they wish for or long for?

But how do we understand this desire within an organisation let alone mobilise it? Desire is difficult concept for an organisation since it is ultimately a personal decision – it’s never under direct control of Leaders. I am sure there are ways and means to try and influence ‘desire’ but in the end we all make and take decisions ourselves.

A starting point would be to define desire, or desires, that would be of value to an organisation? If we look across our industry and consider individuals who have succeeded, then I would propose a common theme is an immense and overt desire for self-improvement – a never-ending drive to perform and contribute better. To deliver excellence and to develop more. To improve partnerships and to excel at collaborating. And these same characteristics equally describe a successful organisation – an organisation where employees continually seek to improve our performance.

But what can any of us do to encourage such desire? Well…we all tend to want to do things that deliver recognition or endorsement. In many cases gain or reward is also important. We like to belong – we like to feel part of something…to support and align with others. And leaders do play a crucial role. We want to follow leaders we trust…leaders who engage us and involve us.

A successful organisation has the desire to improve and advance…an organisation that feels compelled to deliver more and achieve more…an organisation that is never satisfied. Colleagues in a successful organisation demonstrate (or develop) that same personal desire.

The design of an organisation is important for success. The desire of an organisation is not only essential for success, it defines that success. We can develop desire; we can encourage it, sponsor it, reward it and recognise it. But most of all we – as the individuals who make up an organisation – are that desire.




About Steve Street

I have worked in R&D within the Pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years. Up until April 2012 all of my career had been with one company, but that has now changed. I left that company and took up a new role on May 1, 2012 - still very much within the Pharmaceutical industry and again based in the UK. I have been blogging every week now for over 10 years but only on an external site since January 2012. Email updates of the blogs can be requested using the ‘follow’ option within Wordpress. The blogs are only ever my personal view of what I see, think and feel. I am delighted if you agree and find value; happy if you disagree with my views and overjoyed if you feel motivated to comment. Most of all I am simply grateful that you read. Cheers Steve
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6 Responses to Organised Desire…

  1. John Bennett says:


    I like your comments – its all too easy to focus on the anatomy of an organisation but it is the biochemistry & physiology that makes it work and the soul, engagement and desire as you put it that provides the energy. Organisational structure is by far the most straghtforward element to change – and a tempting target for senior executives in their first 100 days – but its often done without fully considering the impact on the other and arguably more critical elements. I would tolerate an imperfect structure if everything else was working well – and I’d be very reluctant to change it!

    • Steve Street says:


      Great to hear from you and excellent comments. I definitely think you are right…design is so easy and desire is so hard…but maybe the real challenge – or rather the real opportunity is for us to look at both…and do both…but to the right amount.



  2. Steve,
    One of the principles I teach in my university course on high-impact performance is that performance has only two basic moving parts : Motivation and Ability. Organizational Design is clearly a part of facilitating the ability to make ‘stuff’ happen. Organizational Desire is then the collective motivation. In my experiience, the single most impactful “motivator” is a shared ‘Vision of Success’ – a clear, concise, compelling statement of what we are all trying to accomplish. When there is universal buy-in to what success looks like (and people see it as important to achieve), the rest is just getting obstacles out of the way of Success. Powodzenia !

    • Steve Street says:


      I have found my blog this week to be particularly thought provoking…sounds funny when I say that about something I wrote myself :-), but in many ways I guess its a good sign…well…it makes me smile at least.

      Your note was excellent – very many thanks. I absolutely 100% agree on the Vision of Success! Personally I find it essential and for a compelling vision I will do almost anything. In many ways that’s what ‘compelling’ means in that expression compelling vision.

      What are your thoughts about how far through an organisation a Vision of Success can and will pass or work. For example will a Vision of Success work all the way from the CEO to a scientist working in a lab? Do we need the same Vision of Success for all levels or do we need to adapt? To adjust? This is why I started to think about Organisational Desire – specifically the desire from a Leader for (and from) a vision may well be different from that of a colleague who works in a

      What do you think?



  3. new launch says:

    Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time 🙂

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