When it comes to shaping the structure and strategy of a business, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Unit 5ODG on Organisation Design is a crucial element. This unit delves into the intricate relationship between human resources (HR) and organisation design, highlighting how HR strategies can make or break the efficiency and effectiveness of an organisation. Let’s dive into the depths of organisation design, its implications, and the pivotal role HR plays in it.

Table of Contents

Understanding Organisation Design

Definition and Key Concepts

Organisation design refers to the process of structuring an organisation’s roles, responsibilities, and relationships to achieve its goals effectively. It encompasses the alignment of the organisation’s structure, culture, and processes to its strategy and environment.

Historical Perspective

The concept of organisation design has evolved significantly over time. Early organisational theories focused on hierarchical structures and efficiency. Today, the focus has shifted towards flexibility, adaptability, and fostering innovation to stay competitive in a rapidly changing business environment.

The Role of HR in Organisation Design

HR’s Influence on Structure and Strategy

HR is not just about hiring and firing; it’s a strategic partner in shaping an organisation’s design. HR professionals work to ensure that the organisation’s structure aligns with its strategic goals, facilitating smooth operations and effective communication.

Aligning HR and Organisational Goals

One of HR’s critical roles is to align the workforce’s capabilities and aspirations with the organisation’s objectives. This alignment ensures that employees are engaged, motivated, and capable of driving the organisation forward.

Key Elements of Organisation Design

Organisational Structure

The organisational structure defines how tasks are divided, coordinated, and supervised. It’s the backbone of an organisation, determining how various functions and departments interact and collaborate.

Work Processes

Efficient work processes are essential for productivity and quality. Organisation design involves streamlining these processes to eliminate redundancies and improve workflow.

Culture and Environment

The culture and environment of an organisation play a significant role in its success. A positive culture fosters innovation, collaboration, and employee satisfaction, which are crucial for achieving business goals.

Types of Organisation Structures

Functional Structure

In a functional structure, the organisation is divided into departments based on specialized functions such as marketing, finance, and HR. This structure promotes expertise but can create silos.

Divisional Structure

A divisional structure groups employees based on product lines, markets, or geographical locations. This structure allows for greater flexibility and focus on specific market needs but may lead to duplication of resources.

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Matrix Structure

The matrix structure combines functional and divisional approaches, creating a grid where employees report to both functional and project managers. This can enhance communication and flexibility but may cause confusion and conflict.

Flat Structure

A flat structure has fewer hierarchical levels, promoting a more collaborative and less bureaucratic environment. It can lead to faster decision-making and increased employee empowerment but may be challenging to manage as the organisation grows.

Organisation Design Models

The McKinsey 7S Framework

The McKinsey 7S Framework focuses on seven elements: strategy, structure, systems, shared values, style, staff, and skills. It emphasizes the interdependence of these elements and the need for alignment.

The Galbraith Star Model

The Galbraith Star Model highlights five components: strategy, structure, processes, rewards, and people. It provides a comprehensive approach to designing an organisation that aligns with its strategic goals.

The Burke-Litwin Model

The Burke-Litwin Model examines the relationship between an organisation’s environment and its performance. It identifies 12 key factors that influence change and performance, from external environment to individual motivation.

HR’s Strategic Role in Organisation Design

Talent Management and Development

HR plays a critical role in identifying, developing, and retaining talent. Effective organisation design ensures that the right people are in the right roles, contributing to the organisation’s success.

Change Management

HR is essential in managing change, from communicating changes to training employees and helping them adapt. Successful change management minimizes resistance and maximizes acceptance.

Leadership and Succession Planning

HR ensures that there is a pipeline of capable leaders ready to step into key roles. This involves identifying potential leaders, providing development opportunities, and planning for succession.

Implications of Poor Organisation Design

Inefficiencies and Bottlenecks

Poor organisation design can lead to inefficiencies and bottlenecks, hampering productivity and performance. Ineffective structures and processes can cause delays and frustration among employees.

Employee Morale and Retention

A poorly designed organisation can negatively impact employee morale and retention. Confusion about roles, lack of clear communication, and inadequate support can lead to dissatisfaction and turnover.

Impact on Business Performance

Ultimately, poor organisation design can hurt business performance. It can lead to missed opportunities, lower profitability, and an inability to compete effectively in the market.

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Steps to Effective Organisation Design

Assessing the Current State

The first step in organisation design is assessing the current state. This involves understanding the existing structure, processes, and culture, as well as identifying areas for improvement.

Defining Objectives

Next, it’s essential to define the objectives of the organisation design. This includes clarifying the strategic goals and the desired outcomes of the redesign effort.

Designing the Structure

With clear objectives, the next step is designing the structure. This involves creating a blueprint that outlines the roles, responsibilities, and relationships within the organisation.

Implementing and Monitoring

Once the design is finalized, it’s time to implement it. This involves communicating the changes, training employees, and monitoring the impact to ensure the design meets its objectives.

Case Studies of Successful Organisation Design

Case Study 1: Tech Company Transformation

A leading tech company underwent a major organisational redesign to enhance agility and innovation. By adopting a matrix structure, they improved cross-functional collaboration and accelerated product development.

Case Study 2: Manufacturing Firm Overhaul

A traditional manufacturing firm transformed its organisational design to better respond to market changes. By implementing a divisional structure, they increased their focus on customer needs and improved operational efficiency.

Challenges in Organisation Design

Resistance to Change

Resistance to change is a common challenge in organisation design. Employees may be reluctant to adopt new structures and processes, fearing the unknown or potential job loss.

Communication Barriers

Effective communication is crucial in organisation design. Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, resistance, and a lack of buy-in from employees.

Balancing Innovation and Stability

Balancing the need for innovation with the need for stability is another challenge. Organisations must be adaptable while maintaining a stable environment that supports consistent performance.

Future of Organisation Design

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is reshaping organisation design. New technologies are enabling more flexible, efficient, and innovative ways of working.

Agile Organisations

Agile organisations are becoming more common, with structures that support quick decision-making, adaptability, and responsiveness to change.

Remote and Hybrid Work Models

The rise of remote and hybrid work models is influencing organisation design. Organisations must create structures that support remote collaboration and maintain productivity across different work environments.

HR Tools and Techniques for Organisation Design

Data Analytics and HRIS

Data analytics and Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) provide valuable insights into workforce trends and performance, helping HR design effective organisational structures.

Employee Feedback Systems

Employee feedback systems are crucial for understanding the impact of organisational design on employees and identifying areas for improvement.

Scenario Planning

Scenario planning helps organisations anticipate and prepare for future challenges, ensuring their design remains effective and adaptable.


Organisation design is a critical aspect of business success, and HR plays a pivotal role in this process. By aligning structure, strategy, and culture, HR can help create an organisation that is efficient, adaptable, and poised for growth. Effective organisation design not only improves performance but also enhances employee satisfaction and retention.


1. What is CIPD Unit 5ODG?

CIPD Unit 5ODG focuses on organisation design, exploring how HR strategies impact the structure and effectiveness of an organisation.

2. How does HR impact organisation design?

HR influences organisation design by aligning the structure with strategic goals, managing talent, and facilitating change.

3. What are common challenges in organisation design?

Common challenges include resistance to change, communication barriers, and balancing innovation with stability.

4. How can organisations adapt to future trends?

Organisations can adapt by embracing digital transformation, adopting agile structures, and supporting remote and hybrid work models.

5. Why is effective organisation design crucial?

Effective organisation design enhances efficiency, improves employee satisfaction, and drives better business performance.


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