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.