1st Edition

The Organization Design Guide A Pragmatic Framework for Thoughtful, Efficient and Successful Redesigns

By Herman Vantrappen, Frederic Wirtz Copyright 2024
    292 Pages 61 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    292 Pages 61 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Organization redesign exercises consume enormous time, resources and energy, and yet they so often get stuck midway or fail to deliver the aspired benefits. This groundbreaking book offers a comprehensive guide, enabling executives and their teams to have nuanced and in-depth discussions about substantive design choices. Once these choices are clear, the teams can confidently initiate the change process.

    The book brings together the building blocks of organization design thinking into a logical flow. It offers a high-quality framework, with each building block broken down into specific design questions. For each of the five categories of design variables – architecture, processes, culture, people and technology – the book enables executives to discover and weigh up a variety of situation-specific design alternatives. The book steers clear of academic abstractions, simplistic formulaic solutions, flavor-of-the-year debates and misleading anecdotes from today’s superstar firms. It is written for smart executives at mainstream companies who realize that organization design choices are contextual and influenced by their company’s specific history.

    The book presents a pragmatic framework that guides managers in search of a conclusive and efficient organization design process. It is relevant to C-suite executives and directors, as well as senior and middle managers, internal project leaders and organization design consultants.


    About the authors

    1 Foundations and promises

    2 Macroview of the framework

    3 Drivers of change

    4 Design criteria and degrees of freedom

    5 The core of the concept design phase

    6 The primary verticals

    7 The role of the corporate parent

    8 Centralization versus decentralization

    9 Lateral coordination

    10 Governance

    11 Processes

    12 Culture

    13 People

    14 Technology

    15 Model operationalization

    16 Day 1 readiness

    17 Course corrections


    Herman Vantrappen is the Managing Director of Akordeon, a strategic advisory firm serving clients in a broad range of business sectors worldwide. He is also the co-author of the book Fad-Free Strategy: Rigorous Methods to Help Executives Make Strategic Choices Confidently.

    Frederic Wirtz leads The Little Group, a corporate advice company focusing on strategy development and organizational performance improvement for clients worldwide. He is also a member of the board of directors of several organizations and currently chairs the board of the Belgian Red Cross.

    “This wonderful and academically rigorous book is based on the premise that companies which have a well-designed organization will be better able to implement their strategies and succeed in the market. It therefore develops a high quality, hands-on guide that enables senior executives to think through organization design issues in a structured and comprehensive way and so make the difficult organization design choices necessary for success. The book is clear, well-written and very practical since it is based on the authors’ extensive experience as consultants helping managers redesign their organizations. It should become essential reading for senior managers interested in designing their organizations for success.” 

    Costas Markides, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Holder of The Robert Bauman Chair in Strategic Leadership, London Business School 


    “Turbulent times necessitate resilient organizations. Resilient organizations develop capabilities and models to redesign and reinvent themselves. The Organization Design Guide offers a welcome guidepost to that end. The authors provide excellent, up-to-date, hands-on guidance for this journey. A must-read for everyone involved in designing, structuring, and building resilient organizations.”

    Koenraad Debackere, Chairman of the Board of Directors, KBC Group


    The Organization Design Guide is a must-read for managers and consultants interested in how to design organizations to improve their performance. Vantrappen and Wirtz are comprehensive in their treatment of dimensions of organizational design, including (de)centralization, lateral coordination, the corporate parent and technology. The authors convincingly argue that although the process of changing an organization’s design (aka change management) is useful, the substance of the change is paramount. The book does an excellent job of conveying the substance of organizational design by providing principles and examples from their experience.”

    Linda Argote, Thomas Lord Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University


    “The authors have succeeded in providing a skillfully pragmatic guide that will enable executives to identify and address the truly critical and specific organizational challenges that hinder their companies from reaching their full potential.”

    Mohammad Abunayyan, Chairman of the Board of Directors, ACWA Power


    “Organizational design is one of the most common, badly done, and unnecessarily mystified exercises in business. The authors have done the business world a favor by laying out – comprehensively and simply – the choices leaders need to make to get it right.”

    Stephen Heidari-Robinson, Managing Director, Quartz Associates and co-author of Reorg: How to Get It Right


    “It is no secret: Successful companies combine an adequate organizational structure with top people and a top company culture. The authors’ playbook explains clearly and pragmatically how executives can score that hat-trick.”

    Willem Van Twembeke, Chief Executive Officer, Inkia Energy


    “Most companies and institutions face challenging transitions, and their leadership teams need to assess the impact of those transitions on organization design. This book provides a refreshing step-by-step approach to defining a future-proof organization design that supports the company’s strategic ambitions. It merges logic with hearts & minds, and demonstrates that culture and structure go hand in hand.”

    Rob Nijst, former Chief Executive Officer, VTTI


    “This book explains clearly what it takes to organize complex international businesses for success. It shows how to involve managers in creating clarity on structure, roles and responsibilities. It also recognizes the importance of periodically evaluating an organization’s maturity and taking it to the next level.”

    Dirk Beeuwsaert, former Executive Vice President, GDF SUEZ and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, AMEA Power


    “Smart executives will use and re-use this book. It goes into the fundamental drivers of organizational design and it provides a balanced perspective on alternative design solutions, enabling executives to effectively make organization choices starting from a solid understanding of the expected benefits and managerial room for manoeuvre.”

    Olivier Legrain, Chief Executive Officer, IBA


    “The authors’ comprehensive and pragmatic framework enables executives to clearly recognize the organizational challenges that really matter and then to orchestrate their teams toward devising and implementing design solutions that work.”

    Guy Richelle, former Chief Operating Officer, International Power plc and Chief Executive Officer of the Belgian Red Cross – Croix Rouge de Belgique