Organization Design (or is it structure) Jobs

Yesterday I was talking to the UK office of a search firm who are looking for a UK Head of Organizational Design for "a highly successful global consumer lifestyle business". The company is a fast-growing FTSE 100 company with operations in Europe, the Americas and Asia (under 10,000 employees and turnover of around £2bn); they are in the market to recruit a Head of Organisational Design to be based at their head office in London. The recruiter said that this "is quite a meaty role that will have tremendous influence at the highest levels within the business."

Fleetingly I wondered if I should put my hat in the ring but instead offered a few pointers on where to look. Apart from naming individuals to contact there are several avenues:

The Organization Design Forum circulates job opportunities to its members. (They are just changing websites to make one that is much more interactive and alluring than the current one). The membership base is largely US but at the conference last week in Denver there were several people who'd come from Africa and Europe.

There is an organization development network in London, ODiN, which attracts a range of people interested in organization design and which also posts job openings.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) run an organization design two day training program (which I lead). It's aimed as an introduction to the field but I've found that participants may have lots of experience in organization design work, but have not got a systematic or consistent approach to it. Each time it runs there are around 16 participants. I never have mentioned job openings to people on it and neither have they asked but having a discussion on what types of jobs are available in the field and what companies are looking for might be an interesting discussion.

The CIPD's People Management magazine posts jobs both on its website and in its paper version. Currently there are a few listed with the title 'organization design' for example: "Our client is a major blue-chip global retailer with an excellent name in the HR field. They are currently going through an exciting time of structural redesign.

Your role will be to support 10 countries across Europe and Asia to implement organisation structure design as a result of changes to the Operating Model. You will work with Function Heads and Directors to design and implement new affordable structures. Using the blueprint and keeping it up to date, you will develop various toolkits to support capability building ,making changes to put the right people in the right jobs, whilst managing headcount and owning the routines around performance management."

Organization design seems to be gaining ground as a technical specialism – the CIPD has included it as a separate competence in its HR profession map. But it's a losing battle putting across the point that design is NOT about structure, by which people tend to mean the organization charts, but about the relationships between the various elements of the enterprise – both hard and soft.

On a wall in a community center in Newcastle on Tyne there's a mural sized (ie whole wall) proclamation about structures which I find fascinating, not least because there's no information about why it's there or who painted it on the wall. It reads:

  • One can work within any structure
  • Once one can worth within any structure some structures are more efficient than others
  • There is no one structure that is universally appropriate
  • Commitment to an aim within an inappropriate structure will give rise to the creation of an appropriate structure
  • Apathy, i.e. passive commitment within an appropriate structure will effect its collapse
  • Dogmatic attachment to the supposed merits of a particular structure hinders the search for an appropriate structure
  • There will be difficulty in defining the appropriate structure because it will always be mobile, i.e. in process
  • Within any structure it is always essential to act with responsibility and consider the impact of the structure on people, their minds, and other living things.

This seems to point exactly to the nub of the matter that the structure is only one element of an enterprise. Design is less about structure and more about how work gets done in a humane and effective way. It would be good to see that stance reflected in job postings, and then in the way the organization design jobs are done.