Organization design: Creating space for people to contribute, how do you do it?

A contribution at work’s corner stone is to help create organisations where employees have sufficient space to do their work. This will result in motivated people and less costs.

In this article, I address some important aspects that influence the space people have, to do their job. These aspects seem no-brainers and not too difficult to spot when you know what you are looking for. Nevertheless, they are common and making improvements is not easy.

Power distribution

Power is about who takes decisions*. Power is distributed in organisations in many ways. One common way is that a boss decides for the group. However, if one person owns all the decision power, the others are left with none. So, it is important to think carefully about the distribution of power.
Large organisations have multiple management layers, geographies, product groups, functions etc. leading to a high degree of complexity.

A point of attention is the span of control of the manager. Very common is a small span of control which decreases the possibilities for subordinates to think and act.

Work scope

Work scope is defined by the purpose, the nature, the size and complexity of work. It is the basis of any organizational design. It determines the level of managers, the number of positions required, of which disciplines etc..

Within disciplines, variation of knowledge and experience levels can be distinguished. A discipline has, roughly, three levels of seniority for individual contributors: entrance, independent and senior. Aligning scope and seniority is important. For instance, larger and more complex work needs a higher seniority level. However, people will easily get bored in cases where work and senior positions are not properly aligned, and adequate work misses. This tends to affect positions at lower seniority level too where development of employees will stagnate or get blocked.