32. Find Organization Design Opportunity

Overview: This task encourages analysis of the current state roles, responsibility, and reporting structure within a business unit. This task is not meant to be a large-scale reorganization event. Rather, improved collaborative processes deserve acknowledgment that a few new “roles” will likely emerge and a few traditional roles might change in their charter.

Considerations: Enlist Human Resource professionals during this task, which includes organization structure and incentives. There are several techniques that establish organization structure or organization design. An excellent model shows five different ways by which to organize: geography, process, function, market, and product. “Designing Organizations: An Executive Briefing on Strategy, Structure, and Process” by James R. Galbraith is my favorite text on this subject.

Organization design includes roles, responsibilities, and reporting relationships. Here, see an illustration of the relationship of job role and job responsibility area.

Same role, different responsibility

  • Sales job “A” is responsible for selling to clients in Texas.
  • Sales job “B” is responsible for selling to clients in California.

These two jobs are identical, except they are responsible for clients in different geographies.

Same responsibility area, different role

  • Sales job “A” is responsible for selling to clients in Texas.
  • Finance job “C” is responsible for maintaining financial transactions related to Texas clients.

These two jobs are different, but they share responsibility for the same part of the business.

Both situations happen frequently in organizations of all types. For these illustrations, job “A” and “B” could both report to a Sales Manager. In contrast, job “A” and “C” could report to a Regional Manager for Texas. Both organization designs are valid and can work. Both designs have strengths and weaknesses. HR can assist in developing the positives and negatives of various organizational designs.

Who needs to be included in the definition of roles, responsibilities, and reporting relationships? Is there a need to increase or decrease the number of individuals performing a particular role?


  • State to the Farmers and Scientists “This task uses the high-level estimates of workload to balance with the number of people and roles within the impacted organization.”
  • Gather the current roles, reporting relationships, responsibilities.
  • Identify goals and intentions of the business unit, or group.
  • Compare how the current-state organization enables the goals.
  • Identify potential, alternative organizing constructs; e.g., by market segment, major process, geography, function, product/service.
  • Use newly drafted role descriptions and reporting structures to estimate number of staff required to fill each role.
  • Draft a synopsis of the results along with recommendations.
  • Select a path-forward and plan for implementation.

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