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HRHeadStart #63: When Not to Reorg; The Helsinki Bus Station Theory
The Talent Agenda
As we head deeper into a period of economic uncertainty, it is very possible that several organizations will turn to the common intervention of organization (re)design or reorg. I have noted earlier that this is not only about drawing boxes and lines to create an org chart. That merely draws out the roles and power structures. However, org design encompasses a broader set of factors and Jay Galbraith’s Star Model (see graphic below) is a great framework to think holistically about the problem. For those who want to get more familiar with the framework, here is an article and an illustrated video.
Focusing specifically on the structure, it warrants a change when it is no longer able to serve the business strategy. For instance, the strategy may be obsolete and requires a total refresh, there may be a merger/acquisition etc. But there are also situations when a structure change may not be the right lever to push. For instance, changing structures to cater to an individual person to retain them or to speed up a team’s decision-making. These may be costly and ineffective. Sometimes it is more effective to use levers like process redesign, incentive alignment etc. Check out this piece to understand the role of reorgs and when and when not to pursue them.
We all get exposed to a lot of new information and learning, but a lot of that is not retained by the brain unless the ideas are revisited, reviewed and reworked on.
In the search for quicker and more certain paths to success, we learn different skills, process more information and experiment with ideas. However, many of us are also quick to give up working hard on an area if we cannot clearly and quickly see how it will benefit us. The way to get incredibly good at something is not just a function of being exposed to it, but it depends on consistency. It depends on how many times you work and re-work on it.
To illustrate this point, Arno Rafael Minkkinen delivered a powerful commencement speech at the New England School of Photography, where he talked about The Helsinki Bus Station Theory. I found it fascinating.
Failures create the opportunity to start over more intelligently.