ON THE MARK recently journeyed to Manchester, UK, for a five-day organisation design and skill building workshop. We worked with twelve participants from two companies and built meaningful connections over the course of a week.
Lynsey Bradley, a Strategic HR Business Partner at Victrex, attended the course and we spoke with her afterwards to hear more about what she learned. We’re thrilled she found so much value in our course and look forward to working alongside her in the future.
Please find a condensed version of our conversation with Lynsey below.
OTM. What did you find most useful about the workshop?
Lynsey. [It helped me] to be very mindful and thoughtful about the earlier stages [of an organisation design project]. We really need to take those [early stages] slowly to get the right results, which means that when we get into the later stages, where we’re really talking about the final design concept, we’re talking about the people that are affected by it. All of that [early] work will really help us make the right decisions at that time and will really help us think about the change process for an individual as well.
OTM. What is the biggest change that needs to take place to set the groundwork for an organisation design project?
Lynsey. In Victrex, and in my first organisation design project, we’re fundamentally shifting the way that people think about Quality. It’s very functionally driven at the moment, and we’re saying, no, look at the workflow. We’re asking people to look across rather than down. So straight away, we’re looking at Quality very differently to what we’ve done in the past. And we’re not talking about headcount, we’re not trying to save money for the organization, we’re talking about making our Quality organization operate at a very high standard and giving the customer what it needs. It’s about driving standards higher and doing Quality in the best possible way for the business.
OTM. Were there areas of the workshop that you wished were covered more in depth?
Lynsey. There’s nothing really that’s coming to mind. What I am doing at the moment, because I’m in the very early stages of my project is pulling together the resources to be able to help communicate early on to the people involved in the project and our stakeholders. If I come to a point where I am hitting a brick wall, I know I can be in touch with Mark or Peter and I can work through it [with them.] Right now, I’m going through [the workshop materials] and connecting all of the dots. It’s a very well-organized booklet and what I’m trying to do is articulate it at a very high level so I can drive the process from beginning to end, but in a way that I feel like I own it. It’s me trying to put my flavor on it. I do think each project should look and feel slightly different because every design project that I do has to be driven by what that business direction is.
OTM. How did you feel about the workshop leaders, Mark and Peter?
Lynsey. [Mark] gave a lot of energy to the room and really helped build my confidence. He had a really nice way of being able to help [participants] really think through things and Peter is exactly the same. He’s a quieter energy to Mark and provides a thoughtful lens, but it was very much a yin and yang going on in the room. The vastness of their experience and the examples they could share lends itself to the framework having a lot of credibility. It didn’t matter what question you had or what issue you were grappling with, [Mark and Peter] had an example and they had an answer. It doesn’t matter what project you’re working on, you could go back to Peter and Mark and say, “I’m really struggling with this,” and they would really help try and unlock that for you. OTM is an incredible support package that you can have as an [internal] business partner.
OTM. Would you recommend the workshop to others?
If you’re going to be a credible business partner to an organization, this should be part of the curriculum, and I don’t think it is considered highly enough as a skill set for a business partner. Everyone talks about employee relations and things like that, but this felt really fundamental. I’ve been looking for this for the better part of my HR business partner career, and never quite stumbled across anything like this. Mark can deliver this workshop and you come out with a framework, all of the tools and all of the knowledge to be able to help implement a change project around organization design. Every business partner should be asking for [this workshop] and looking for it and should be given it. Very early on in the workshop, we talked about design and development and the differences between the two, and you can’t really go past that point until you understand [the difference.] [Mark and Peter] seem to have answers for every question so you can tell they’ve really gone through the same process to come up with their own model that they’re now sharing. It was such a privilege to learn so much from them as experts in their fields and come away with all the resources. I’ve never been to a course where you leave with so much. You come out feeling truly skilled up.
OTM. What would you say to a professional who hasn’t really considered the importance of design work?
Lynsey. Until you’ve been on [a design project] you can really underestimate the work. You can look at it in a very one-dimensional way or you can do it properly. If you’re not looking for this as a business partner, it’s because you’re looking at [organisation design] in too basic a way. If you really want to be a true strategic partner to the business as a HR partner, this is the type of thing that you need to really help equip you for that role. It’s an internal capability that we now have within the organization. If you’re not looking for it as a HR partner, I would question whether you were in the right job at all, because it feels too fundamental to what we’re supposed to be doing. As HR I think it’s crucial that we recognize this as part of our role and it’s something that we need to be better at.
OTM. How does an organization decide that this is the work that needs to be done as opposed to fixing other areas that don’t fundamentally change anything?
Lynsey. In my current project, there’ve been a lot of plasters put on and what’s come out quite consistently is that there have been a lot of people involved in quality, but fundamentally, the process doesn’t work end to end. I’ve spent a year trying to lay the groundwork and I took this opportunity to be at this workshop to actually say, “Can I do this as a project because I think it’s fundamentally broken, and we can do something about it.” It’s taken a long time of putting it on the table and testing people’s appetite to really get to this position. When I spoke with Mark and Peter about it, they gave me some reassurance that I was doing the right things. Part of it is finding the right opportunity at the right time – planting the seed and waiting for it to grow a little bit before you actually go, okay, now we’re going to do it. You look across the business and there are other opportunities, but it’s just about planting the seeds and making sure that you can manage it in a way so that wherever that next project will be, start planting the seed now. Highlighting it as a problem is the first step. Getting a leader to really think through the questions – why is it the way it is? Do we need to fix it? Do we need to do something differently? Now I have the framework and I might be able to really shortcut that process, because I’ve got some of these tools that I can use, that might get a leader to the same answer, but a lot quicker next time.
OTM. Any final comments?
I feel very privileged to have come through the course and come away feeling so skilled up. I do feel like I’ve got this real passion and confidence to be able to give [organisation design work] a go, which I didn’t have before. I’ve started my project and am putting it all together. I can see how much of a difference it can make and I’m really looking forward to making a difference.
ON THE MARK’s experience and passion for collaborative business transformation that’s supported by pragmatism, systems thinking, and a belief in people is unparalleled. OTM has been in business for 35 years and is a global leader in organization design consulting.