How To Redesign an Organization Without Freaking People Out

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Last month I was honored to speak at BBC in San Antonio. My talk was entitled “How to Redesign an Organization, Processes, and Technology all at Once Without Freaking People Out!”

Joy Beatty talks at BBC

The biggest challenges in these major changes are the people and dependencies between the people, their processes, and the technology they use. Of course, this how to guide is oversimplified, but here are the high level things to do:

1. Figure out why the executives want to change.

To do this, use a Business Objectives Model to understand the answers to these questions:

  • Why are we changing?
  • Why now?
  • How will these changes benefit the business?
  • What happens if we don’t change?

Business Objectives Model

2. Understand the desired business value and map the changes (features and process changes) to the value.

You want to make sure you identify the correct things to change in the organization and trace the solutions to the business value. Understanding the desired business value will help you identify both process changes and technology changes that are needed. Later, you will use this to prioritize which changes are most important to the overall objectives in the organization.

3. Make sure you have buy-in early on and work to maintain it throughout.

Changes can be exciting or demoralizing: it’s all in the way you present it.

How Not to Create an Office Space environment:

  • Tell them what you are doing at every step of the way.
  • Celebrate wins. Lots of them and frequently.
  • Include them in defining the process.
  • Include them in touch decisions. Let them make decisions.
  • Meet with everyone one on one and as groups.
  • Meet with them informally for fun.
  • Measure Employee Satisfaction.

4. Openly discuss risks identified and how they impact overall execution plan.

Risks have the potential to negatively impact the project. Monetary consequences are the most powerful, but other ramifications may include affecting the projects scope or timeline. 

Common Risks in Org Changes

5. Analyze current state only to the degree necessary.

Now you understand the high-level, but now you need to dig in and start figuring things out. This usually starts with understanding the current state – where you are today.

  • What people are involved? Use Org Charts.
  • What systems? Use Ecosystem Maps.
  • What Processes? Use Process Flows.

6. Focus on defining the future state (lots of modeling here!).

This is where you should spend most of your time – defining what the future state of the organization looks like. At a minimum, you’ll need to create future state process flows, new org charts, new role definitions, new ecosystem maps and new business data diagrams. And these will all work together to ensure completeness. For more ideas around modeling check out our book Visual Models for Software Requirements

Define the Future State

7. Prioritize using business value.

Once you know what changes you want to make in the organization from your modeling and analysis, you can prioritize the changes. The key in prioritizing is to be thinking about how much each one contributes to business value.

Remember Business Value

8. Create a roll-out strategy.

The roadmap is really hard to create, and whatever you do create will probably change. Tackle this by using the scope, the priorities, and the dependencies to come up with a first cut at a roadmap for rolling out the changes.

Roadmap Template

9. Measure success.

Frequently throughout the program, you need to figure out whether you are actually on a path to being successful.

Success Metrics

10. Go watch Office Space and don’t make any unnecessary changes. And don’t make Office Space jokes during the redesign!

Here is a video of a few minutes of the talk:


If you want to know more, enter your email to download the slides or email us at


I cannot finish this blog post without sharing how much fun we had at our our booth at BBC! We had some really cool conversations, and we had pipe cleaners! We asked people to be creative to whatever extent they wanted. This really mimics the kinds of activities we use in our training to get people thinking and active.

Winner at Booth
Pipe Cleaner Challenge Winner!

Joy at BBC Booth

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