Why we started an org redesign consultancy

The way the majority of organisations are organised isn’t right. It’s not right for people or for business. In many cases our humanity is being repressed and our commercial potential stifled. That’s why me and my pal Jim are setting out to:

help our humanity thrive by liberating organisations for human and commercial benefit

Really? Are things really that bad?

Yes. I think so. From both a human and commercial perspective the traditional business structures don’t make sense anymore. Let me outline a tiny bit about why I think that…

Me, pretending to be an octopus at the How Work Works conference in Belgrade Serbia. Photo credit: Nemanja Knežević and Nemanja Stefanović

Helping our humanity thrive

I know too many people for whom their jobs sap their energy and normally this seems to be down to the structures and cultures which pervade the modern workplace. Talent is wasted, smiles turn upside down, energy starts to dip. For some this is becomes a huge drain on their lives, they go home a shadow of themselves, to be a diluted version of the friend/partner/parent they’re capable of being.

This might seem like a pretty exaggerated and bleak picture but with only 13% of people at work ‘actively engaged’ we’re left with 60% ‘disengaged’ (which I interpret as indifferent) and 27% of people ‘actively disengaged’. It’s difficult to believe for a minute that anybody is hard wired to want to waste their precious days like that. What a sad journey from the huge creative potential every one of us is born with.

Our planet is facing some hugely complex challenges and our human potential is our only tool to building a beautiful future. In that sense it seems that humanity faces no bigger challenge than a human energy crisis.

I’ve been super passionate about changing this for about 10 years and so if there’s a single place I can put my skills and knowledge, into making the single biggest difference to the planet, this is it. The way I can change the world is to change organisations of all shapes and sizes. Then our humanity will thrive.

Our businesses are suffering for this reason and more

There are obvious commercial repercussions to the armies of uninspired people going to work everyday fulfilling 1% of their creative potential. If innovation is a company’s biggest competitive edge, creativity is our most priceless resource. But that isn’t the only reason why the way many businesses are structured makes no sense anymore.

The maths behind centralised authority just doesn’t add up in a world facing such ‘wicked problems’. We’ll go into some of the research underpinning these notions in other posts, but the main thing to consider can be summed up by contrasting the problems we face with the structures we use to solve them.

We face a larger variety, of more complex, and more frequent problems than ever before. Yet we often operate from centralised structures which were built to work with relatively simple, linear, infrequent problems. The numbers just don’t add up. The pipes are too small, we need more bandwidth. It’s mathematically impossible to deal with so much complexity from a centralised system.

This is something that has been understood in engineering and cybernetics for years. Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety states:

‘A system that’s governing another system has to have at least the variety of the system its governing’

What are the alternatives to the ‘way things are done around here’? How are we gonna do it?

Whether I look at the world from a global level, a governmental level, an organisational level, an inter-relational level or a personal/internal level, there are different technologies and cases that point towards better alternatives. There are mindsets, behaviours, tools, techniques, structures, models and process all built to allow us to work creatively, quickly and to constantly evolve and learn.

There are different models of governance which constantly adapt, there are examples of cultures which are built for learning and evolution, there are interpersonal tools which dramatically increase creativity and productivity.

These various practices come from many different sources: from the world of engineering, from software development, from social experiments, from psychology, from education and more.

Many of these amazing ways of organising society and particularly of working are underused and in certain areas, completely dormant. Which is why Jim & I aren’t not only looking to help organisations shift operating system, but also countries. Starting with the imminent launch of our first book, ‘Democracy Squared: what if the internet had been invented before democracy?’. If you’re interested in reading about how these different technologies can be applied to the future of our nations, sign up here to get an early bird price. You can also listen to our first podcast here.

Listen to our interview with Finnur Magnusson

What’s different about us? How can we help?

After almost 10 years of curiously researching new ways of helping groups of people work in radically new ways, and several years consulting organisations of all shapes and size for Swedish education revolutionaries Hyper Island, we have acquired a tool belt of ‘requisite variety’.

Helping organisations undergo cultural and organisational transformation requires competencies and experience in many areas, including: culture change, organisational design, agile & lean processes, design thinking, coaching, facilitation, inter-relational dynamics, workshopping, business strategy and more.

We’ve been developing and are now ready to share everything we’ve learnt from some real pioneers, ready to do what we can to liberate organisations for human and commercial benefit. And when what we can’t do it (there is loads!), we bring in the partners that are fit for the job. The ‘x’ of flux is a multiplier for all the great partnerships we hope to work in. Nothing can really be achieved alone.


By combining all the different ingredients we’ve gathered we currently see our best way of helping to be by embedding ourselves as partners in organisations. These are the three main ways (for now):

  1. Advising & coaching: from advising CEOs from multinational companies to coaching and facilitating small teams; we’ll shape shift for the job
  2. Design & package: sometimes it’s handy to just have experts research and suggest new models for working. We do that too by drawing on our knowledge and expertise in different areas.
  3. Provoke & hack: Change is partly (mostly) an emotional thing, so it can pay to have people come into your organisation and shake things up. We’ll try to be great role-model for new ways of working once embed in your organisation.

We’re testing out a pricing calculator so that the way we work with people is as transparent as possible and also so that we can flux to different sizes, budgets and purposes. Our mission to liberate organisations shouldn’t rule anybody out.

Jim & I climbing mountains with post it notes in Dream Valley with our guru Jack Hubbard

What next?

We’re super lucky for a couple reasons. First of all, we’re starting our lives as entrepreneurs with a little U.S. Tour to meet as many great people as possible, learn and share what we learn. If you’re in either San Francisco, Mexico City or New York City, please send us your details so we can get in touch and grab a coffee. If not, do it anyway so we can Skype :)

Then, it’s straight back to continue working with our amazing founding client Rinse. We couldn’t have found a better partner to start working with. The former pirate radio station is turning into a global creative force and we’re pumped to be helping them create the culture, org design and processes they need to keep their ‘Destroy & Rebuild” philosophy fresh and ready to scale.

Our aim is to start small and do great work, but we also know that we can’t change the world on our own. Which is why we’ll gradually be opening up for great change agents from around the world to join us on this journey. Setting up flux cells where there is desire and hopefully building a co-created and co-owned network to help our humanity thrive.

We’re excited and ready to make an impact and start a new learning journey. Two pals, and many more talented, knowledgeable and experienced friends wanting make a difference.

Hope to connect with many great people around the world. Until then, be well and be happy.

Much love and compassion,

Jim & Jon