Beat Up from Restructuring? The Antidote to the Aftermath

Creating linkages and governance to make new organizational structures work

Have you ever seen a corporate restructuring where the dots didn’t connect?

After all the angst that comes with organization design, have you ever felt like there was:

  • Work that wasn’t missed until it went undone?
  • Hand-offs between processes that don’t go smoothly?
  • Critical decisions no one was empowered to make?
  • Uncertainty around who was doing (or supposed to do) what?
  • Confusion about how functions were supposed to work together?
  • Overlapping roles, or worse, work that just wasn’t getting done?
  • Stress and confusion that made you think the old structure was better?

These symptoms cause hesitation to ever restructure again, despite how misaligned the organization may be. They can cause tremendous organizational stress and disruption when a new structure is implemented. Leaders just want things to work better and instead, morale, productivity and confidence in both leadership and Human Resources take a hit. The bad news is that these things are often accepted as a wake of destruction that can’t be avoided – part of the cost of restructuring. The good news is that there is a concept most often ignored in restructuring that can eliminate the above pain…

It is called wiring.

If you’ve ever driven a small boat or worked on a car, you understand wiring. Wiring connects the starter to the engine; it connects all the buttons on the dashboard to the pieces of mechanics required to perform the tasks required: lights, fuel pumps, fuses, air conditioning, ignition, etc. These things all work to connect independent systems that, when wired together, work to get you where you’re going. It’s the same in a corporation.

Existing organizations all have wiring. You may not talk about it, and it may have just evolved there. Things like regularly scheduled meetings, status update, governance processes, job descriptions, process flows, decision trees, approval processes, RACI, etc, all exist to connect parts of an organization that cannot exist on their own. To deliver effectively, these things need to be ‘wired’ to work together.

In a restructuring, leaders and HR typically spend a lot of time on designing the right organizational structure. The general idea is for the align to make work more efficient or deliver strategy. Getting the structure right tends to be the focus…then it’s on to change management and implementation.

We see that a bit differently. We believe that most organizations miss a step.

While it certainly IS critical to get the design right, there is NO perfect organization structure. Restructuring done right is a series of trade-offs. There will always be processes affected and people required to work together differently. If you want the structure to work smoothly, the most critical aspect of restructuring is wiring. This needs to happen before implementation and usually before change management as it adds to the changes that will need to be managed.

Examples: The complex beverage sales organization that realigned to create one point of contact for their customers (a non-negotiable). While the new structure was more efficient, it had to be wired to ensure that nothing was lost in the handoffs and linkages between the 17 parts of the business that used to have customer access were still intact. Or the insurance company that aligned around delivering the capabilities required to drive strategy – they created wiring to ensure that people who no longer worked together would stay in sync even though they were moved to different functional areas.

Wiring is not a way to fix a bad structure. It is a way to ensure that the right structure works the way it is supposed to. If you’re doing more wiring than work, you don’t have the right structure.

Many assumptions are made when leaders determine that a new structure is better than the one they had. While intentions are good, it is almost impossible for leaders to know how everything under them is ‘wired’ today. Most don’t even think about it, much less really know the details of everything that is done under them and who regularly talks to who (while that might be blasphemy to some).

Example: The finance function that couldn’t figure out why a certain report was never formatted properly after they restructured. No one was aware that an analyst had created a macro to reformat the report or about the button he pushed every week before the report went to the CEO. They know now, but it took three weeks and hours of time and frustration to figure it out. This could have been avoided with wiring.
For a restructuring to work, very little can be left to chance without causing significant disruption. There must be intentional thought given to the wiring of the new structure to ensure that the right connections are made at the right time…exactly when they are needed to avoid impacts to productivity, morale and delivery of results.


Do you want to talk more about wiring within your organization? Our RapidOD organization design process is fast, collaborative and includes wiring as a critical means of ensuring the organization structure delivers business strategy. Call us to learn more. It’s what we do.