How Organizational Design Can Help Improve Your Corporate Culture


How Organizational Design Can Help Improve Your Corporate Culture

When I coach entrepreneurs I always ask two questions: what is your business model and how do you layout your organizational design?. This helps me to better understand the dynamics of their organisation and their workforce. But first, I described them what an organizational design is. Organization design is a process of making physical workspace both practical and inspiring. This means arranging infrastructure, roles, processes and rewards policies to boost creative thinking and innovation. You create this effect by arranging work tables and passages for “creative collisions”. You encourage informal talk. You provide materials for recording and communicating ideas and the results. In other words you create an effective organization capable of achieving his business strategy. It is a structure which directs the workforce in achieving common goals. But it is more than structuring the organization as the design encompasses a lot of organizational concepts, one of which is corporate culture.

Let me first begin to elaborate how these two concepts are interrelated and proceed how design and culture can be improved to gear the company for more positive results.

Clear The Confusion

The Link Between Organizational Design and Corporate Culture

The organizational design is the company’s invisible code book in work processes. This is the ultimate reference when the chain of command, division of labor and accountability is put into question. A well-designed organization helps everyone in the business do her or his job effectively. Corporate culture, on, the other hand, is the set of behaviors, values, actions and belief that inspires the workforce. Culture is all about what’s perceived to be right, wrong or acceptable in the workplace.

Now let me make the link clearer by setting an example. Your company conducts a weekly meeting, always at the same day, time and venue. However, some employees come in ten to twenty minutes late, so the meeting is likewise delayed. The department head doesn’t do anything about the tardiness, and simply accepts that some employees are “just like that and you have to deal with them.” Since the tardy employees were never questioned nor reprimanded, they continue to do be late for the future meetings. They think being tardy is an acceptable and tolerable behavior so they don’t change their ways either and has made tardiness some sort of a culture. I’m sure you know many other examples like this and they are also fundamentally shaping you corporate culture.

In order to inculcate to employees that being on time is important on the company; the higher ups should implement an action. First they have to give the example. They have to impress on employees that time is important to the company’s overall productivity and that being on time is a way to respect colleagues. From this example, we can draw leadership authority is necessary to correct or improve the company’s culture. Employees may not be as convinced if other employees, especially if leaders don’t give the example.

Now let us take a look at some strategies in designing the organization that will help improve corporate culture.

Design with a purpose.

Road to success

You have a set of employees with different personalities, attitude and background. Most importantly, they have their own culture. The design of your organization should cater to these unique needs; at the same time recognize that despite the differences, you have common goals to achieve. The purpose should systemize the way behaviors, actions and thought processes are focused on achieving the company’s mission.

Role models: clarify authority, responsibility and accountability.


Corporate culture will significantly be improved if the organizational design clarifies authority, responsibility and accountability. It eliminates confusion as to who refuse to whom, who has the authority to assign tasks and as well as who are to be held accountable in case of shortcomings. Some organizations are designed in such a way that the top management only decides on very urgent and important matters while managers and supervisors are to decide on day-to-day matters. There are also other companies where decision-making is a process that involve everyone in the hierarchy. Some organisations use role models to promote corporate heroes that represent best the culture. This is a good way to create inspirational leader myths, allegories and sense. Some companies use storytelling to speak about those people, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson are great examples of approaches that seek the truth and speak with an “authentic” voice.

Connect people.

Lachende motivierte Mitarbeiter ziehen am Seil

An effective organizational structure should create a culture where connection is readily available. The design should define the routes of communication between employees and who to approach in the top management. This is especially crucial in addressing employee and customer concerns.

How to Design your organization?

hand drawing in a whiteboard

This should be a co-creation process. Try to invite your stakeholders in the first phase. They might have another vision of your corporate culture and this is good for the ideation phase. The second step is to look to the future of your organisation. What do you need to build the ideal future organisation? Here are a few steps to follow (please share your alternatives):

  • Define your organisation purpose: vision, mission values, strategy, short and long term goals
  • Define your organisation ecosystem: will you organize primarily around functions, processes, customer-types, technologies…
  • Define your management structure: top-down or down-top approach, decentralized, autonomy level, team structure…
  • Define you core business processes: value proposition, revenue, and deliverables to customers…
  • Determine how support resources are shared: are human, intellectual and financial resources accessible? How do you provide them? Be flexible and reactive.
  • List and standardize procedures: make it simple and visual.
  • Define how you organize people around core processes.
  • Define how your share knowledge and information: training, knowledge management…
  • Define how you foster interaction.
  • Define roles, tasks, functions, and skills: don’t forget performance metrics, how are they evaluated and held accountable.
  • Determine workspace layout and equipment needs of various teams and departments throughout the organization. See if assets can be shared to reduce costs and how you can foster creative collisions.

I believe there is no standard design as each organization is unique to the next. But I believe making some concepts as default features in the design will make your working place better for all stakeholders. To recap, it is important to:

  1. Have a design with a purpose.
  2. The design should clearly define each and everyone’s role.
  3. The design should connect and make way for communication.

In conclusion, keeping in mind how your organizational design affects the way your employee act and behave is a great stepping stone to success. By checking from time to time the changes in culture and making the necessary adjustments in your organizational design should give you a clearer route in achieving your company’s goals.

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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