How to develop a creative organizational structure to boost your company ?

As a consultant in creativity, I often get asked how organizational structure impacts company innovation, performance and employee retention. Because so many companies think that organizational structure simply defines how a company is laid out, several organizations find themselves in disarray, creating poor culture in the workplace. We should realize that the organizational structure dictates where the authority comes from, who makes the decisions, who handles a specific job, who reports who to whom and who is held liable in case of shortcomings and failures. Even if you’ve decided to make a flat organizational design like holacracy where everybody is “free” to work on what they want , you’ll eventually have to adjust it as soon as the business expands, acquires new hires, develops, merges or dissolves a department or position.

Lachende motivierte Mitarbeiter ziehen am Seil


How to develop a creative organizational structure to boost your company ?

To come up with an effective organizational structure, you should consider a couple of questions

Does it serve a noble mission?

A purposefully designed organizational structure is more aligned to goal achievement. You are placing a certain employee in that certain department because you believe in his capability in delivering excellent work. A purposeful structure also determines the necessity of certain mission which could otherwise be redundant with other functions or departments. To develop a purpose start with Leadership Value Creation. Here is an article on how to be a Values-based Leader?

Does it empower creativity and efficiency?

Efficient and creative employees translate to more motivation, happiness, profit and client satisfaction. Your organizational structure should be designed in such a way that it empowers creativity and efficiency. Employees’ functions should be well-defined and they should know to whom they report. Supervisors should also know what and who to oversee to continuously stimulate creativity and efficiency. The structure also makes it clear who does the job to eliminate redundancy and overlapping of tasks. For more information on new goverance management styles check this article on Holacracy.

Does it work for your type of organization?

It is safe to assume that a small organization  with 15 employees or less can effectively follow a simple organizational structure. But if you are running a large business that needs several departments and employees, then your structure should cater that too. There is no universal formula for an effective structure; they may have the basic departments such as HR, accounting, administration and so on, but the type of structure you work with is best tailor-fitted to the type of organization you have.

To have an idea - concept with colourful sheets

Now, if you deem improving your organizational structure it is necessary to improve over-all creativity, here’s what I suggest you should do

Here are 3 examples of workplaces where creative people can thrive.

If you want to develop a creative corporate culture, there’s nothing worse than working in an environment that doesn’t stimulate creativity.

So, I’ve selected 2 companies  that foster a creative spirit. Spaces are designed for people connection and according to the company mission.

1 – Mind Valley

In this speech Vishen shares the 5 Principles he brought into Mindvalley to transform it into one of the world’s best places to work. Vishen shares principles he adapted from a wide variety of sources, from psychology, to computer games, personal growth, eastern spirituality and an understanding of Generation-Y in order to change his organizational strucutre.

The 5 Principles are:

  1. Happiness
  2. A Noble Mission
  3. The Gamification of the Workplace
  4. A Focus on Personal Growth
  5. Tribal Dynamics

2 – Zappos

“Zappos Culture is the overall environment; space, attitude, freedom, management style, and actual physical surroundings which all work together to create a total milieu which attempts to make each individual better and happier on a whole, so that each one of us will then spread this to each other, our customers, and everyone we encounter. ”-Mike S. Employee since 2005

Zappos Core Values

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

For furhter information on Zappos Culture: Holacracy the New Organizational Goverance of Zappos

 3 – Our organization

In this part, I would like to talk about a small company that I know very well, my company. I strongly believe that it’s very important to create an atmosphere where people feel they are empowered and free to liberate themselves. It’s not always easy because sometimes I want to take decisions on every level but I try to delegate and give autonomy when it’s possible. I’m still experimenting those structural dynamics to foster our organization but I’m pretty confident that one day I will be able to create the right ecosystem. The model is working, we are growing, every year we launch new projects and experiments, clients are satisfied and come back.

I would like to mention that it’s sometime difficult to conciliate this way of working/thinking when I have to face financial challenges. I don’t know why, in this situation, I always want to take control of everything. I need perhaps to apply those creative organizational principles to myself. 😉

Here are 5 steps that I use to change our organizational structure

1 – Analyze my current structure

I take a look at what I have right now and draw our structure considering all the departments, businesses and functions. I determine if the employees are indeed placed in positions that explore all their potentials.

2 – I Draw my “dream” structure

This is the structure that includes all my desired positions and departments regardless of budget. I write down the job description and duties for each function.

3 – I compare or benchmark

When I have a draft of the ASIS and TOBE structure I try to compare them with other companies like Zappos or Mind Valley. I try to see which one is most effective and needed by our organization. I try also to ask me those questions. Do I really need to acquire new hires to do the additional functions I listed, or can another employee do that without sacrificing productivity? Do I need to move employees to another department? Answering these questions always lead me to better alignment of functions.

4 –  I communicate with my team

If I want to implement the changes and improvements in our structure, there is always a dialogue to take place. I need to involve our employees and they need to know what are expected from them given their new functions. I facilitate meetings regularly to check how every department is working on and what their recent achievements are. Meetings are also good venues to evaluate creativity, efficiency and how departments can help one another.

5 – I determine if split-ups or mergers are needed

Some companies combine sales and marketing functions, while accounting is an all-together different department. Deciding whether split-ups or mergers are needed is definitely up to the structure needed by our organization. Ask yourself those questions. Can your sales department function on its own? Does your marketing team need to split up functions such as SEO, content, advertising and such? Of course you need to consider that these will require another physical set up and more employees.

Personally, I don’t like to work in silos. In our organization marketing is working, in close collaboration with sales, innovation and the operations. Our companies are working together: our content marketing and growth hacking agency is working in close collaboration with our consultants and our innovation coaches. It’s very funny to see a Lean Manufacturing or Six Sigma consultant working with our creative content marketing team. Outcomes, exchanges and creative collisions are always very powerful and productive.

To recap, before you begin an organization or consider if redesigning your organizational structure is necessary, you should:

  •  Take a look at the mission of your structure.
  • Determine if it encourages creativity and efficiency.
  • Check if it is suitable to your type of organization.
  • Build a dream structure and compare it with your current one. Determine if there are missing or redundant positions and if split-ups or mergers are necessary to improve company performance.
  • Build a workplace where creative people thrive

Your organizational structure forms the culture landscape of your company. It structures everyone with their tasks and follows an adaptive chain of command. An effective organizational structure supports the efficiency and creativity of every employee, opens communication, innovation breakthroughs, release happiness, reduces turn-over and increase client satisfaction.

For furhter investigation on this topic here are two other articles:

14 Creativity exercises to improve Lateral Thinking

Holacracy the New Organizational Goverance of Zappos

The Workplace of the Future: How Only Innovative Companies Can Keep Up

How to Build an Innovation Group

What is innovation?

Deconstructing Transformational Change : A Guide for the Workplace

organizational structure

Please share this insight to inspire people to work with more passion and lead with creativity. It’s free like this ad free article. Thank you 🙂


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