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Macro vs micro design

Article by Rupert Morrison on how organizational design means getting both the Macro and Micro views of the organization right. Find out how.

Published by Rupert Morrison 

When designing an organization, most people think of the big questions. Is it a product or functional organization? How do you balance the need to be local for customer responsiveness or increased cost control vs the need to be global for functional excellence or improved innovation. It is all about ensuring the strategy can be delivered. Trade-offs need to be made, so design criteria created to help make those.

Once the big picture, or Macro design decisions have been made, what about the detail? An analogy is the planning process for building a house. It is important to sort the themes, answer the big questions first. How many rooms? What budget? Look & feel? Once this is done, equally important is to then sort the detail. Lighting & electrics; plumbing; finishes.

The big picture & the system detail

Anyone who has ever built or done major rework to a house knows full well the perils of not doing this detailed planning. The cost of last minutes changes. The delays and escalation of cost. The feeling of being out of control. The breakdown in relationships and trust between all the parties.

When building a house, good architects and project managers focus on getting the detail right. So why not when designing an organization?

Why not?

So how should it be done?

By applying micro design techniques; by making it visual; by getting down to the role level in terms of: responsibilities (for processes & activities, decisions, objectives) and competencies; rightsizing; understanding the interfaces and how it should really work in practice. Having designed organizations at the Macro level, we realized you also need to get the Micro level right. The Macro and Micro views of the world are not mutually exclusive. They need each other in equal measure.

Rupert Morrison

Founder and Deputy Chair of Orgvue, Orgvue

Rupert Morrison is the founding pioneer behind Orgvue, the leading organizational design and planning platform, which has won numerous accolades including Gartner’s ‘Cool Vendor’ in human capital management software. Rupert’s aim is to help businesses realize their goals through data and analytics. With over 20+ years of experience in consulting, and 17 years in developing software, he blends a deep understanding of board level business issues with new data driven methodologies to give real and sustainable business impact. Rupert is the author of the industry's foremost thought-leading books, considered to be essential 'must reads' for all org design and workforce planning professionals: "Data-driven Organization Design" (now in it's second edition) and "Organizational Planning and Analysis".

Photograph of Rupert Morrison