Why Organizational Design? Why Process Consulting?

Posted by Matthew Thomas

As a consultant, I am constantly aware of the need to polish my elevator speech for people I have just met. I say, elevator speech, but it's really elevator speeches. I think I have about four, and I pull those different speeches out depending on my assumed context.

matthew-thomas-2Sometimes I give the most generic answer, such as when I am on an airplane or in a waiting room: "I design financial strategy for businesses and non-profits." Other times, I use a contextual answer, such as at a conference with a particular demographic: "I help organizations like the ones represented here design healthy financial processes and strategy." Still other times, I just say, "I design processes for organizations to help them achieve their goals - particularly around finances." Rarely, I use the most direct, "I am a process consultant working in organizational design."

I have found that most people get confused or hung up on the terms "organizational design" and "process consulting." These two terms are at the core of what I do, but, as descriptive as they are, their definitions are not clear enough in the general population to make them reliably useable. And as circumlocution is antithetical to good elevator speech-making, and the specifics of the disciplines are often technical, and, well, jargon-y, this presents a challenge. 

Organizational Design is a process of developing the right structures, people, measurements, processes, and strategy to achieve business goals, non-profit mission or religious purpose. Good designers work at the intersection of strategy and implementation to assist enterprise leaders in building and connecting these components for success, as measured by the organization's end goals and sense of purpose. Designers see the organization as a means to other ends, and not as an end in itself.

Process Consultation, as applied to organizational design, introduces the consultant into an organizational system to facilitate a process of moving toward desired, stated ends. Process consultation is often useful where the outcomes of a decision are yet to be decided, but the process of making a decision is complex. Moreover, process consultation is ideally suited to adaptive change scenarios, where an organization, its leaders, and often the consultant must engage in new learning and then apply that learning to achieve the organization's goals. 

So why do I do organizational design? Why do I do process consulting? 

I do organizational design because I believe that many enterprises, be they businesses, non-profits, or religious groups, have greater capacity to achieve their goals and a much greater capacity to make the world a better place than they are currently able to because their organizational structures, culture, metrics and strategy prevent them from doing so. I desire to see organizations and their leaders achieve their full potential while making the world better for it. I am fascinated with how strategy interacts with idea generation, how learning is required for adapting to new conditions, and how different aspects of an organization interconnect to create the situation it finds itself in. 

I do organizational design through process consulting because I believe that most organizational issues are deeper than what a single product can provide an answer to. Enterprises that find themselves stuck in achieving their ends often require a process design more than a product design to achieve their goals. This process orientation helps enterprises make more solid and confident decisions and achieve the overall ends of healthy interaction both internally and externally. 

As stated on the Design Group International About page, "Design Group International is a home for experienced organizational leaders who practice the craft of process consulting." We are constantly seeking to expand our network of expert consultants and providers to provide deeper and broader range of services, wisdom, learning and results to our clients. 

If you think this might be you, click the button below to begin exploring process consultation work through Design Group International. 

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For more detail about the work I do through Design Group International, visit my Consultant page.

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Topics: process consulting, Process consultation and design, Matthew Thomas, Design Group International