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Why on Earth Would I Hire an Organization Designer?

Written by Angela Hornsby

Principal | Lighthouse Resource Group

Why on Earth Would I Hire an Organization Designer?

Whether you are looking at a complex restructuring or simply trying to make a single department more effective, an organization design consultant can help ensure that the changes are well executed and have the desired positive impact to people, productivity, and profit. Today, more than ever, resources are precious and the cross-functionality of most functions means that even small changes can have major impact. Also, many HR functions lack organization design expertise.

So, if you hire an org designer, what should you expect? First and foremost, the consultant is a partner to leadership, seeking to understand the overall strategy, short- and long--term goals, as well as culture and leadership style. Any redesign, no matter the size, should begin with these things in mind.

The Process

This can vary according to the designer, but typically includes some version of the following:

  • Review documents/artifacts (strategy, organization charts and other relevant information)
  • Conduct interviews with leaders and selected team members
  • Analyze current structure and productivity of key roles
  • Identify improvement opportunities and potential impact of changes
  • Deliver organization design options and recommendations
    • Overall structure (if in scope)
    • Function and Department level structures
    • Team level structures
    • Job redesigns as needed
    • Outsource recommendations as needed
    • Delegation, spans of control and decision-making hierarchies
    • Vendor/contractor oversight
    • Cross-functional relationships and reporting
  • Metrics to support the changes (i.e. productivity, client satisfaction, employee engagement, cost-benefit, or other business impact)


The consultant may also provide additional services, if the client does not wish to resource the activities internally. These can include:

  • Compensation review, benchmarking, and recommendations
  • Communication and implementation process
  • Change Management support

Asking the Right Questions

Curiosity is the consultant’s most valuable tool. Asking the right questions is critical to getting to the right design.

Strategic focus should always come first. For each business unit, function, or team, it’s imperative to know the most important strategic objectives impacted by their work. What new areas of focus may be implied by the current strategy? What activities create competitive advantage? What activities are required, but don’t deliver strategic value?

Skills are another important area for questions. What new skills are necessary to support the strategy? What skills will become less important if the strategy is successful?

Policies, procedures, and practices also deserve scrutiny. What may need to change? Is there a current process improvement methodology?

And who can forget technology? Information should be gathered as to the impact of current systems and platforms, as well as any planned upgrades or replacements.

By asking questions in all of the above areas, and listening carefully for any other issues that may need investigation, we find that we can get the best result for our clients. Most importantly, we strive to start with an open mind and a commitment to find the unique solution that is right for them.

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