A regenerative organisational design primer

Emily Bazalgette
4 min readJul 11, 2023
A life-giving thistle, captured in Devon, May 2024

This post is an update of my organisational design primer from 2020. Last updated May 2024.

Organisational 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, Employee Experience, agile working, digital transformation, culture design, community management, internal comms, organisational psychology, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Justice, leadership and team coaching, HR, and Operations.

I believe that “regenerative organisational design” puts life and liberation at the centre of organisational change efforts:

  • Creating the conditions for organisational health and enticing life-giving patterns to emerge
  • Fostering communities that can repair and self-heal
  • Developing entities that are able to end with grace, improving the health of their ecosystems.

Life pushes back against a story that excludes it — Meg Wheatley

The sources below reflect the jumble above and my own opinions about how organisations should organise (regeneratively), covering more the how (practice) and the why (beliefs) rather than the what (artefacts, such as operating models, which I’m not keen on).

Exploring what regenerative organisations could look like

Designing better processes and patterns

  • either/org: an inspiration library for common organsiational patterns or designs, with a liberatory lens
  • Beyond The Rules: organising and governance for an economy designed for life, including practical toolkits and templates for re-orienting organisational processes (such as employment contracting) towards equity and regeneration. Convened by Dark Matter
  • An example of a regenerative process: returning to work after a period of furlough, illness or caring responsibilities
  • An example of using user-centred design and horizontal organising to re-design an internal process (in this instance, appraisals).

Concepts that I wish were org design memes

Unusual organisational design-related thinking that I love

  • Sahana Chattopadhyay’s newsletter, Pluriversal Planet: “my way of inviting us to step into a world that is counter-hegemonic, abundant, diverse, and inter-related”, centring voices from the Global South
  • Microsolidarity by Richard D. Bartlett: “Microsolidarity is a community-building practice. We’re weaving the social fabric that underpins shared infrastructure”
  • OD for Life: a network of Organisational Development practitioners, mostly based in Europe
  • Millennial management science by Venkatesh Rao: exploring “the centrality of lore, as in folklore, the lore of a fictional extended universe, or more pertinently, the water-cooler lore of an organization, in the framing of the traditional concerns of management and organizational theory”.

What resources would you like to see on this primer?

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Emily Bazalgette

Regenerative organisational desiger. Coach. Grief tender. Writer. Creator of GriefSick: https://griefsick.substack.com/. Website: https://www.emrosebaz.com/