Opinion: we should stop 'big bang' company restructuring

January 15th, 2021

There is certainly benefit in re-structuring an organisation.

Model: Conway's law mentions communication structures in organisations define the resulting architecture of their software

Model: Agile Fluency requires it to reach the third zone "optimizing"



So we may want to restructure organisations.

But does it have to be "all at once"?

"This is the organisation structure we'd like to have."

<insert org chart without names here>

"After a lot of hard work, we've filled in all the boxes with names."

<insert org chart with names here>

(optional) "If you're not on it, you've been fired."

(or) "We've managed to find a box for everyone!"

"So from tomorrow / next week / next month this will be the new organisation's structure."


It's probably a familiar pattern to some...

But is this really the only way to do this?

It sure seems quick&easy.


But what about all the damage?


Quote: every action is a piece of communication

With this action, the company communicates:

You are a pawn on a board of chess for us to move however we please.

Your personal wellbeing is not important to us.

Nobody's wellbeing is important to us.

Whether they actually intend for this, is irrelevant, because the actions speak louder than words.


Sudden shock causes things to be dropped.

"You were responsible for this, now you are responsible for that.

Who is responsible now, for what I was doing?

Those people are.

How will they know what to do?

They'll figure it out"

Meaning, they will

  • Try to make you do it anyway

  • You'll have to teach them how to do it

  • They'll figure it out on their own (and cause problems while doing so, that you could have prevented)

This in a period where nobody has time because everyone

  • Needs to figure out how to do their new job

  • Do their new job

  • Is constantly bothered by others to teach them how to do their job

Sounds like a recipe for succes...?



So, 'big bang' company restructuring hurts.

But what are other options?

I'm not sure yet.

But maybe if we look at it from a different angle, a different metaphor:


Pattern: Refactoring organisations

What if we constantly do small refactors of the organisation structure?

Maybe we rotate people in and out of positions?

Maybe we train everyone in multiple jobs?


Pattern: incremental release of restructured organisation

We have a vision of what we would like the outcome to be.

What is the smallest step we can take in that direction?



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