Step by step: How to create an evolutionary organisation

Evo-Org Bird

As part of my blog series about our organisation principle Orga 4.0, I’d like to share some thoughts today about creating a company that is constantly changing its structure – an evolutionary organisation. All companies sooner or later go into large restructuring and change processes. These large, time-consuming processes become necessary when parts of the structure don’t work anymore, in order to keep the organisation healthy and prosperous. Once one of these changes has been completed, often the organisational structure becomes outdated and the whole thing starts all over again.

At Testbirds, we believe in constant change – meaning no big restructuring, but small constant changes. One of the central lessons I’ve taken from previous years working as a founder is, that there isn’t a perfect organisational structure at any time. There is a good one – the one that’s working – and once someone sees an opportunity to improve parts of it that makes it slightly better. With that change, the organisation can improve incrementally. And if this process goes on and on constantly, then the organization is constantly improving without all the mess of large restructuring and transformation processes. One of the big advantages of this approach to improving the structure is – especially compared to big transformation processes – that if the small change doesn’t work, you can simply revert back.

But how does it work in practice? Everyone in the company can come up with an “Evo-Org” idea on our internal social network Yammer. People discuss the suggestions, raise issues and further ideas. Sometimes these discussions lead to a different outcome, but still solve the initial issue. Then it gets implemented (see my post about decision making for further input about how this is done). Important: Here we only focus on changes for the organisational structure. This means, that with Evo-Org we e.g. implement new processes or a new position in the company. It means that we’re working on the organizational change, i.e. on the structure itself. Evo-Org is not meant for operational change, i.e. working in the structure. Operational change is about improving smaller things, like the process for writing a concept for a client, whereas creating a new position to focus on this task would be an organizational change.

Enough talk about theory, you might be wondering what we have done so far, right? One example is how our Marketing and Sales teams work together. In the past, each department had their own regular meetings to discuss strategy and daily business. But as Marketing and Sales have to work together closely, e.g. for organising trade shows and coming up with case studies about projects with existing clients, the colleagues have to communicate with each other constantly. Therefore, we came up with an organisational change: Now Sales and Marketing meet each Monday morning to discuss all open points and how to work together during the week. They are one big team now.

Another example is that we recently created a new position called “Pre-Sales consultant”. This person will have a role between sales and project management to consult clients, e.g. preparing and defining proof-of-concepts, creating concepts for client meetings and so on. We have come to the conclusion, that we now need another person to have this mixed role between the two departments to make our service even better for our clients. In the past, when we still were a smaller company, we did not need this role and our clients didn’t need it either. This has changed, so we reacted to the way the environment we do business in changed. Introducing this role completely changes the structure in both Sales and Project Management. Once the person for this position is found, we will also further define in detail, what the necessary tasks are and evolve this way again. This example shows perfectly what is meant by constant change.

To put it in a nutshell, Evo-Org is a fast and efficient way for us to evolve as a company and adapt to changing needs. Instead of implementing extensive transformation processes after a certain time we constantly alter smaller things. This means that compared to big restructuring processes, we can easily go back to an earlier version of our structure, if the change does not work out. That said, I’m curious as usual, what your opinion is about organisational changes. How do you do it in your respective companies and which pros and cons are there in your opinion?

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