Four Tips To Do a Gentle But Effective Reorganization / Restructure

Posted by Walt Brown on Aug 11, 2021 8:31:00 AM

 Tip#1: Don’t call it a reorg or restructure – call it something else.

Let’s face it, the words Restructure or Reorg are scary terms for 90% of an employee base, the words signal loss of jobs, loss of status, loss of career path, loss of clarity, confusion, pain!

Reality, now more than ever a company’s organization must be constantly restructured and reorganized to meet the complex demands of their modern market and the real demands of modern workers who want to see clearly where they fit in and what they are accountable and responsible for.

Restructuring and reorganizing needs to become part of the way we constantly operate, you could think of it as being an Agile organization, but, what does “Agile” really mean to the same 90% of fearful workers we hit above?  How do we constantly adjust, align, and get organized to meet the day, the week, month, quarter, year, the future?

We might call it our “let’s get organized operating solution” our “CAP” – Continuous Alignment Process, but whatever you call it you need to name it, keep it consistent and own it. It needs to describe the why and the how.


Tip#2: Make it granular.

For our CAP to work, two things need to be going on, 1st, the effort must be granular to avoid and eliminate doubt. And 2nd, the effort must include the individuals being impacted, done for them, not to them.

Granularity on two planes:  Typically, we need to exercise our CAP and get re-organized because we have confusion on one or two planes of organizational cognizance. On one plane, we have confusion about who is accountable for thinking, and on another plane, we have confusion around who is actually responsible for doing the work.  When you start to think of Roles and Positions as “thinking or doing” i.e. “accountable or responsible” then clarity and cognizance come into focus and confusion disappears.

Granularity: Jobs v. Positions/Roles.  All of our granular work revolves around Positions/Roles, not Jobs. To make it gentle we don’t touch Jobs. In the OCog™ model, we use the words Roles and Positions as interchangeable terms.  If you are an athlete you will understand the word Position v. Job this way. Your Job is Football Player on the team – you play the Positions of Offensive Center, Defensive Linebacker, Punter. If you are into the theater you will understand the word Role v. Job this way. Your Job is Actor as a member of the company, in the production you are in different scenes, you wear different costumes and play multiple parts i.e. Roles.  Both analogies hold true and the secret is getting to the root with a complete inventory of all of the Positions/Roles that actually exist.


Tip#3: Make it "For Them" not "To Them" by including all players

Three group facilitations to comb out and create your thinking and doing Position/Role inventory.

how to restructure gently

Think of an organization as a round domed topped table (see diagram above) with people sitting around the table in their Seats/Jobs with clarity around their accountability/thinking and responsibility/doing Positions/Roles.  Now think of an issue/problem/opportunity as a ball bearing that lands on the table. What is the ball bearing going to do?  It is going to roll. The goal of the CAP is to be sure the ball bearing does not slip through all of the Roles/Positions and hit the floor, it does not get hot-potatoed back and forth between Roles/Positions never getting addressed and it does not land in a Role/Position that has no time capacity to handle it and it just gets lost in the black hole of no time.  The goal is for the ball bearing to roll efficiently into the Roles and Positions that need to be handling it with the time capacity to do so.

The above domed topped table also exists on two planes – the Thinking/Accountability plane and the Doing/Responsibility plane.  Both planes share the same three issues, cracks, hot potatoes, and capacity.  How we address these three areas is by clearly defining Positions and Roles.

Granularity step one: Creating the first inventory of your Roles and Positions.

For thinking Positions and Roles, we gather leadership and management teams together and run a facilitation we call “Pulling teeth, cracking eggs and making omelets”. Yes, it is a little painful and messy but ends up being delicious. What comes out of this facilitation is a clear inventory of the thinking positions that are required and then these Positions/Roles are horse traded and then attached to people via their jobs. Now we are cognizant and people are clearly accountable for their thinking Positions/Roles. 

For doing Positions and Roles, we like to go all the way out to the frontlines and gather groups of people together that understand what the others are doing. For these folks, we run a facilitation called “Flower Power”. This is a fast-paced exercise and what comes out of Flower Power is a clear inventory of everything that is being done in the form of Roles and Positions.

These two facilitations are proven to deliver immediate buy-in from our folks, it is a key component to making our reorg gentle.

Armed with these two inventories of Roles and Positions we can start working on refining them and being sure they are being played by the right people who have the skills, the desire, and the time to get it done.

If you are interested in learning more, all of these facilitations are outlined in my book “
Death of the Org Chart – Rise of the Organizational Graph”, which are taught virtually via video at and are coached by our cadre of Certified OCog Coaches.

Granular step two. Once we have our initial Role/Position inventory extracted, have taken time to name them accurately, have written purpose statements and we have slept on the work, we gather the same teams together and have them complete the facilitated “Roles/Positions to 14 Point Matrix Exercise”.  In this exercise, we create a matrix where the Roles/Positions are listed across the top and the 14 Points are listed down the side. As a group, we create and debate the answers that go into each intersecting field. This creates extreme levels of cognizance and is where the real reorganization / restructure happens.


The reality is this, to become organizationally cognizant, to create an aligned Agile organization our people need to be able to always answer these 14 Points about their Job, this is the reality of modern-day organizational complexity, it is why you need to reorganize all of the time.

The 14 Point Checklist

Every employee wants to know the answers to these 14 things.

    1. What is the Purpose of my Job?
    2. What Positions/Roles do I fill as part of my Job? What is the Purpose of each Position/Role?
    3. Who do I report to?
    4. Who is my Mentor?
    5. Who do I turn to for Coaching in each of my Positions/Roles?
    6. What Teams am I part of?
    7. What Meetings will I attend?
    8. What Entities (clients, projects, contracts, etc.) will I interact with?
    9. What Workflows, Core Processes do I participate in?
    10. What Processes, Procedures will I follow and/or maintain?
    11. What Systems do I interface with and need to master?
    12. What are my Objectives?
    13. What are my Key Results?
    14. What Skills or Competencies do I need now and in the future?

Tip #4: Don’t touch the Job titles 

This is easy when you have completed the CAP work above. We recommend moving Positions/Roles between Jobs without renaming Jobs or hitting the reporting structure.  Detach and reattach. You will find that your teams do this naturally during the Positions/Roles to 14 Point Matrix Exercise.  For your nervous nellies, just say: “We are trying for Role and Positional cognizance right now, we will address Jobs later.”

I hope you have enjoyed the above and have a path to the future. My purpose, cause and passion is removing the yoke of organizational confusion and dysfunction from the necks of executives and employees. This has been my mission for the last 14 years across over 200 reorganizations. From this work came the discoveries I have shared here, and have captured in my book, in my videos and taught to our coaches. 

The model is called the Organizational Cognizance® Model: “OCog” for short, and the software you use to capture, visualize and share your OCog work is,  the world’s first Organizational Graph.


Topics: Organizational Cognizance

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