Organisation Design (OD) Implementation…connecting the dots for success.

Organisation Design (OD) Implementation…connecting the dots for success.
Morris Lamani, Executive Director at 21st Century

Morris Lamani, Executive Director at 21st Century shares how it can be done.

“There is adequate literature on the subject of organisation development by scholars and industry peers alike. However, the question of how to implement organisation design solutions and interventions has proven difficult for companies and remains the single most complex element of OD.

Why do OD interventions fail?

Strategists and OD practitioners carry out crafty methodologies like:

  • Business analysis
  • Scenario modelling/planning
  • Market trends analysis
  • Specific business problem analysis
  • Work Study, as examples.

“However, when it comes to implementation, one single most important aspect many organisations disregard is change management. One cannot emphasise the importance of change management enough, the main objective of implementing a comprehensive change management programme is to ensure that a change vision is shared across the organisation and as a consequence, buy-in is achieved from all stakeholders.  Without a clear and well-communicated change vision, OD interventions run the risk of toxic stakeholder pushback or at worst not being implemented.

“It can also be argued that, the other reason for failure to implement OD interventions is lack of follow-through and leadership cop-out.

Where does OD fit in the bigger scheme of things?

“In 21st Century’s experience, an organisation structure is put in place to deliver on the strategy whilst an Operating Model serves as the vital link between a company’s strategy and its organisational architecture (Organisation Structure). It can therefore be said that “Organisation Design” operationalises the “Organisational Strategy”. The following diagram depicts where OD is positioned in the bigger scheme of things:


OD Implementation simplified

“When implementing the OD intervention, it is always important to remember the reason for the intervention and its associated principles. The most common reasons why companies would undertake an OD intervention are, but not limited to:

  • New or change in Strategy
  • Change in Business Model
  • Change in Operating Model (more relevant now than ever before, as a consequence of the pandemic)
  • Increase efficiencies
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • And as we have now seen, as a result of an imposed external environmental change (Covid-19)

“One of the common pitfalls when implementing an OD intervention are unclear change vision as well as poor stakeholder management.

“Numerous considerations are to be borne in mind when implementing an OD intervention, to mention but a few:

  • Is there alignment to the strategy business model and/or operating model?
  • Is it aligned to the Company’s technology, systems, processes and capabilities?
  • What impact does it have on people?
  • Which option is the most effective and financially viable to implement?

“Prior to implementing the newly adopted OD interventions it is advisable to check skills and competencies of current employees, through skills and competency assessments.

The following diagram depicts typical steps to follow:


“Migrating employees into the new structure is a delicate exercise that could put business, labour and personal/employee interests on a collision course. Fusing these three competing yet interwoven interests requires superior stakeholder engagement intervention. Without delving too much into the legalities of such a process, the following diagram depicts typical considerations in a migration framework (matching and placing scenario):

“Considering the extent of expertise, time and energy that is dedicated to the changes in operating model and structure, it is important that this investment is not lost in the implementation process.  Thus, much expertise, time and energy should be dedicated to the change and stakeholder management processes.  It is also important to acknowledge that external expertise could be considered for any part of this journey, given the impact it has on the organisation in the long run.  Particularly at this challenging time in the economy, organisations are needing to make difficult decisions and ideally to take employees with them on the journey, not in an opposite and adversarial direction. If change management is the very last step in the process, don’t let that be the step that “undoes” all the hard work that precedes it.”

Written by: Morris Lamani, Executive Director, 21st Century

About 21st Century:

21st Century is one of the largest Remuneration and HR consultancies in Africa, with a team of more than 60 skilled specialists, servicing over 1700 clients – including non-profit organisations, unlisted companies, government, parastatals and over two thirds of the companies listed on the JSE. 21st Century offers effective business planning with KPA and strategic planning reviews, creative reward practise modelling, operating modelling, change, stakeholder and culture management, training courses and comprehensive organisational development plans. 21st Century continues to offer solutions via virtual channels during the lockdown period.


In this volatile and uncertain environment, the way of working is changing dramatically. There are new – and often unprecedented – challenges that require businesses to plan rapidly and take decisive and immediate action. 21st Century offers a Resilience Audit assessing businesses during COVID-19 for their sustainability, offering these businesses tailor made solutions and developing new remuneration structures and performance measurement systems, as well as helping with managing organisational changes within the business.