Last fall I was invited as a special guest to the European Organizational Design Forum in Milan, Italy. More like a family affair of over 100 people from 20+ countries, what connected everyone (without saying a word) is a shared commitment to making workplaces work better. Especially to design the world and a future with hope.
Why is organizational design important now?
OD, as in organizational development has been around awhile. From other parts of the organization, most reactions to OD aren’t positive. I’m not sure what has happened but it is clear that OD is not associated with
‘building capacity to rapidly respond to a dynamically changing business environment.’
Enter organizational design. Designing companies to perform in rapidly changing business conditions spans every aspect of the company from creating the context where responsible leadership comes naturally to instilling trust to take risks. The emotional and social context of the workplace has a direct impact on the amount and quality of interaction and, therefore, collaboration. So! Design for performance, well-being and social/emotional safety, and you’ll get better results.
Maybe it’s because OD stands for Organizational Design OR Organizational Development that some confusion exists. To clarify, I asked the founder of the European Organizational Design Forum, Paul Tolchinsky, to explain the difference in less than 2 minutes.
Change agents… what is your focus? On design or development?
The distinction is important because particularly in organizations above 25 people, developing is not going to be radical enough. Design walks you back to see how the entire dynamic, the interactions and the decisions all contribute to achieving the company’s higher purpose. (And if the higher purpose is just to make money, it’s not high at all. Rethink that!)