A team designing their ways of working

“I’d like to know more about organisation design, is there anything you could send me?” — Curious designers and digital folk

People ask me this question fairly frequently. I have an “org design primer” email that I send to curious people, but thought it might be more useful if I chucked it into a public post.

Organisation design is a jumble of disciplines and capabilities, which, depending on who you talk to, includes some of the following: organisational development, learning and development, systems design, user-centred design, agile working, digital transformation, culture design, organisational psychology, leadership and team coaching, HR and…


Emily Bazalgette, who has 12 years experience supporting the supporting nonprofits through organisational design and coaching, shares some practical approaches to “know by trying”

To develop supportive, people-centred, equitable and humane organisations, we need to accept that (many) organisations are complex systems. This means embracing organisational development (OD) practices that work with complexity, rather than seeking to flatten it. Before we explore these complexity-informed practices, it’s worth examining the “flattening” approach and why it is so persistent.

OD as artefacts to soothe uncertainty

Let us examine the traditional organisational development tool, the Target Operation Model (below). These models are not really about developing our organisations…


This post is a organisational design case study of applying service design to internal organisational services — in this instance, appraisals. It covers:

  • Designing a new appraisals process with employees
  • Low-fidelity and live prototyping of an internal service, including what didn’t work
  • Some out of scope things we got excited about (people development-as-a-service, culture change in internal teams and self-management)

I led the project with With You’s People and Culture teams in early 2019. We Are With You (formerly Addaction) is a national charity that supports people who have issues with drugs, alcohol or mental health. …


A colour photo of Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. Tall pink garden structures with green gardens below.
A colour photo of Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. Tall pink garden structures with green gardens below.
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Photo by Yeo Khee on Unsplash

Most of work is “conversation design” most of the time, for which good questions play a critical role. Questions disrupt our default ways of thinking, communicating and designing. Questions are conversational and cultural interventions that invite and entrust. Offering a solution collapses options. Offering a question opens up the space for possibilities and plurality.

These ten questions contain within them the mindsets and practices of your future organisation: psychologically safe, decentralised, equitable, agile, complexity-informed, ecologically-minded. If you want to change the mindsets that underpin organisational behaviours, consider starting with good questions. …


What I use to run my business and do my work

I welcome suggestions for

Task + knowledge management

Still figuring out an efficient knowledge management process, this situation is a hot mess.

  • FA VO (beautiful 100% recycled notebooks)
  • Google docs (meeting notes)
  • Trello (kanban)
  • Pocket (save articles)
  • Notion (wiki)

Document creation + storage

Google Workspace (docs, presentations, spreadsheets, forms and basic surveys)

Want to read this story later? Save it in Journal.

Collaborative project work

  • Google Workspace
  • Miro

I was recently reminded of this very long, very good article How to make your iPhone work with you, not against you by Coach Tony. It’s a 75-minute read, enjoy.

Since I read this article over the Christmas period of 2018, I have been slowly but surely crafting a Boring Phone.

2018: Did most of the things in the article

2019: Deleted all social media and news apps

2020: Deleted the Gmail app. Apart from my daily walk, I now spend all day on my laptop, there is no good reason to check emails on my phone

2021: Deleted the…


About 50 small white cards with typed and handwritten words on them, on a table, with a Sharpie pen
About 50 small white cards with typed and handwritten words on them, on a table, with a Sharpie pen
My first pass at updating my values in 2020, using Lou Shackleton’s Values Cards. It’s ok to have 40 values, right?

Defining your values gives you confidence, stability, consistency and helps you to make decisions. I first defined my values when I went freelance, in May 2017, over three years ago. The end of this strange year felt like a good time to revisit my values, with the help of my wonderful coach, Lou Shackleton.

How I defined my values

I did some prep work with Lou, capturing significant moments of my life. Lou then posted me a pack of about 150 potential values, with some instructions for sifting through them to find the right ones for me.

When I got down to the clusters you…


An illustration of three people at work, with illustrations of sketches and charts behind them
An illustration of three people at work, with illustrations of sketches and charts behind them
Illustration courtesy of Blush

A new project to inspire and support radically better organisational development in the UK nonprofit sector.

In the last six months, the UK nonprofit sector has rapidly adapted to the disruptions of Covid-19. Within weeks, charities, voluntary and social enterprise organisations have created new services, secured emergency funding and increased partnership working. What if this rapid adaptation contains the seeds of radically better organisational development?

Open OD is a project to explore how we might inspire and support radically better organisational development in the nonprofit sector. …


The user manual for my boiler. A complicated machine, very unlike a complex human.

I’m collaborating with lot of different people and groups at the moment, from paid work with clients, to side projects with friends, to Covid-19 volunteering. I’m publishing my user manual as a way to give a quick intro when I start working with someone (thanks to caitlinconnors for the prompt). User manuals are really useful for developing your team culture and ways of working, particularly when working remotely.

A few caveats:

  • I don’t expect anyone to read to the end of this! For a team exercise, I’d create a much shorter version
  • Sharing my user manual doesn’t mean that I…

I am sharing some principles for coping with isolation that I learned through being housebound due to chronic illness. I spent September and October 2015, and February, March and April 2018, mostly at home. It was self-isolation, but because I was too fatigued to work, walk very far or talk to people. An uncertain and fearful time. Would I get better? Would I be able to work again? Routines and plans didn’t work for me, but, looking back, I can see that learning to follow these principles helped me to cope with isolation*:

  • Options, not timetables
  • Let things emerge
  • Become…

Emily Bazalgette

Organisational design consultant. Coach. #chronicillness advocate. She/her. Newsletter: thismightresonate.substack.com. Website: https://www.emrosebaz.com/

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