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Flevy Management Insights Q&A
How can organizational design principles be applied to improve agility during restructuring?


This article provides a detailed response to: How can organizational design principles be applied to improve agility during restructuring? For a comprehensive understanding of Restructuring, we also include relevant case studies for further reading and links to Restructuring best practice resources.

TLDR Applying Organizational Design Principles, like decentralization, simplification, and strategic alignment, during restructuring significantly improves Organizational Agility, as demonstrated by ING and Amazon.

Reading time: 4 minutes


Organizational design principles are crucial for enhancing agility, especially during restructuring phases. These principles guide the structuring of processes, allocation of resources, and the establishment of communication channels within an organization. The goal is to create an organizational structure that is not only efficient and effective but also flexible enough to adapt to changing market conditions and organizational goals. By applying these principles thoughtfully, organizations can ensure that their restructuring efforts lead to improved agility, better performance, and sustained competitive advantage.

Understanding Organizational Agility

Organizational agility refers to an organization's ability to rapidly adapt to market changes and external pressures in a productive and cost-effective way without losing momentum or vision. Agility can be achieved through various means, including but not limited to, flexible organizational structures, empowering employees, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. According to McKinsey, organizations that successfully build agility into their operations can respond to changes five times faster than their less agile counterparts. This responsiveness is a critical factor in not only surviving but thriving in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Agility is not just about speed; it's also about resilience and the ability to effectively navigate through uncertainty. This requires a deep understanding of the organization's core capabilities and the external environment. It also necessitates a commitment to learning and adapting based on new information and circumstances. Agile organizations are characterized by their flat structures, decentralized decision-making processes, and empowered teams that can act quickly and autonomously.

Enhancing agility through organizational design involves carefully crafting roles, responsibilities, and workflows that align with strategic objectives while allowing for flexibility. It also means creating an environment where innovation is encouraged, and failure is seen as an opportunity for learning and growth. By doing so, organizations can ensure that they are not only prepared for the challenges of today but are also positioning themselves for future success.

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Strategic Application of Organizational Design Principles

Applying organizational design principles to improve agility during restructuring requires a strategic approach. This involves analyzing the current organizational structure to identify areas of rigidity and inefficiency. For instance, traditional hierarchical structures can often slow down decision-making processes and inhibit innovation. By transitioning to a more decentralized model, where decision-making authority is distributed across the organization, companies can improve responsiveness and adaptability.

A key principle in this context is the alignment of the organizational structure with the strategy and goals of the organization. This alignment ensures that all parts of the organization are working towards the same objectives, with clear roles and responsibilities that support strategic priorities. Accenture's research highlights that companies with highly aligned business and IT strategies report significantly higher levels of agility and operational performance. This demonstrates the importance of strategic alignment in achieving organizational agility.

Another important principle is the simplification of processes and elimination of unnecessary layers within the organization. This can involve flattening the organizational structure, streamlining workflows, and reducing bureaucracy. By doing so, organizations can enhance flexibility and speed up decision-making processes. Deloitte's insights suggest that simplification and the adoption of agile methodologies can lead to a 30-50% improvement in operational performance and customer satisfaction. This underscores the value of simplification in driving agility and performance.

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Real-World Examples of Agile Restructuring

One notable example of successful agile restructuring is the transformation undertaken by ING, a global financial institution. Faced with the need to become more responsive to customer needs and market changes, ING adopted a "Spotify model" of agile organizational design. This involved organizing the workforce into small, cross-functional teams, known as squads, which operate in a highly autonomous manner. This shift enabled ING to enhance its responsiveness to customer needs, improve employee satisfaction, and increase its speed of innovation.

Another example is provided by Amazon, which attributes much of its success to its organizational structure known as "two-pizza teams." These teams are small enough that they can be fed with two pizzas, emphasizing the importance of small, autonomous teams that can innovate and make decisions rapidly. This structure supports Amazon's customer-centric approach and has been a key factor in its ability to innovate and scale effectively.

These examples highlight the effectiveness of applying organizational design principles to improve agility during restructuring. By focusing on flexibility, decentralization, and simplification, organizations can not only navigate through periods of change more effectively but also position themselves for sustained success in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

In conclusion, the strategic application of organizational design principles is crucial for enhancing agility during restructuring. By focusing on alignment, simplification, and empowerment, organizations can build a foundation for resilience and adaptability. Real-world examples from ING and Amazon demonstrate the tangible benefits of such approaches, underscoring the importance of agility in achieving competitive advantage and operational excellence. As organizations continue to face an ever-changing business environment, the principles of organizational design will remain key drivers of success.

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Best Practices in Restructuring

Here are best practices relevant to Restructuring from the Flevy Marketplace. View all our Restructuring materials here.

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Explore all of our best practices in: Restructuring

Restructuring Case Studies

For a practical understanding of Restructuring, take a look at these case studies.

Operational Excellence Strategy for Regional Hospital in Healthcare

Scenario: A regional hospital is undergoing restructuring to address a 20% increase in patient wait times and a 15% decrease in patient satisfaction scores.

Read Full Case Study

Cloud Integration Strategy for IT Services Firm in North America

Scenario: A prominent IT services firm based in North America is at a crucial juncture requiring a strategic reorganization to address its stagnating growth and declining market share.

Read Full Case Study

Telecom Firm Reorganization for Market Leadership in Broadband Services

Scenario: The organization is a prominent broadband services provider in the telecom sector facing market saturation and increased competition.

Read Full Case Study

Turnaround Strategy for Telecom Operator in Competitive Landscape

Scenario: The organization, a regional telecom operator, is facing declining market share and profitability in an increasingly saturated and competitive environment.

Read Full Case Study

Restructuring for a Multi-Billion Dollar Technology Company

Scenario: A multinational technology company, with a diverse portfolio of products and services, is grappling with a bloated organizational structure and inefficiencies.

Read Full Case Study

Organizational Restructuring for a Global Technology Firm

Scenario: A global technology company has faced a period of rapid growth and expansion over the past five years, now employing tens of thousands of people across multiple continents.

Read Full Case Study

Explore all Flevy Management Case Studies

Related Questions

Here are our additional questions you may be interested in.

How is the rise of remote and hybrid work models impacting reorganization strategies?
The rise of remote and hybrid work models is reshaping reorganization strategies, necessitating changes in Organizational Structures, Talent Management, and Operational Efficiency and Innovation, guided by insights from leading consulting firms and market research. [Read full explanation]
In what ways can artificial intelligence and machine learning be leveraged to streamline the reorganization process?
AI and ML can revolutionize business reorganization by enhancing decision-making with predictive analytics, streamlining processes through automation, and facilitating employee engagement and change management, thereby making reorganizations more efficient, data-driven, and adaptable. [Read full explanation]
What impact do emerging technologies like AI and blockchain have on the efficiency and effectiveness of turnaround strategies?
Emerging technologies such as AI and Blockchain significantly enhance Turnaround Strategies by improving efficiency, effectiveness, and stakeholder trust, fundamentally changing corporate restructuring. [Read full explanation]
What are the implications of blockchain technology on organizational structure and reorganization efforts?
Blockchain technology promotes Decentralization, enhances Collaboration and Innovation, and improves Risk Management and Compliance, driving organizations towards flatter, more agile structures and necessitating new skills and roles. [Read full explanation]
How do you measure the success of a turnaround strategy, and what key performance indicators (KPIs) should companies focus on?
Success of a turnaround strategy is gauged through Financial, Operational, and Market-Driven KPIs like Revenue Growth, Profit Margins, Cash Flow, Inventory Turnover, Customer Satisfaction, and Market Share, aligning with strategic goals for sustainable growth. [Read full explanation]
How can companies ensure that reorganization efforts align with long-term sustainability goals?
Discover how Strategic Planning, Change Management, and Culture ensure reorganization aligns with Sustainability Goals, boosting resilience and competitiveness. [Read full explanation]

Source: Executive Q&A: Restructuring Questions, Flevy Management Insights, 2024


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