The list below presents an annotated bibliography of some essential books for the organization design practitioner. In addition to their breadth and importance, they have been chosen to represent current thinking and availability (all are in print and available from Amazon). If you would like to add works to this list or additional comments regarding specific books, please send your thoughts to Tanya Spelts at


Practitioner-Focused Org Design Principles and Applications (10 books)
These books are primarily focused on organization design theory, concepts, principles, history and/or thought leadership that helps to define the depth and scope of the field and on how to apply principles and concepts of organization design, including organization design processes, case examples, tools, techniques, practices and methodologies.

Engagement (5 Books)
These books are primarily focused on ways to involve and engage people (e.g., clients, colleagues) in any stage of organization design, including, for example, large group meeting design approaches, ideation, etc.


Organization Design by Nicolay Worren (2012)

cov_worren80The book is aimed at master-level students and professionals who want an in-depth understanding of how to deal with organizational design challenges facing large and complex firms. Key topics include:

  • Why organizations are becoming more complex
  • What managers can do to manage or reduce complexity
  • How to design multidimensional structures
  • How to improve sub-unit interfaces
  • Managing the organisation design process

“…The message that organization design is a part of every managers’ job, is a major determinant of effectiveness, but requires considerable skill, comes through load and clear from this book.  With its use of challenges, key questions and proposed approaches the book explains complex concepts and provides a good blend academic insight and practical relevance”. – Paul R. Sparrow, Director, Centre for Performance-led HR, Lancaster University Management School

“This clearly written book offers a contemporary and thoughtful presentation of the architectural options involved in organisational design. It candidly acknowledges the neglect of organisational design in much research (…). It emphasizes that the topic of organisational design must include processes of design (…) Overall, Nicolay Worren persuasively makes the argument that organizational design deserves to be a core topic in the modern business school.” – Lex Donaldson, Professor of Management in Organisational Design, Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales


Stanford, N. (2007), Guide to Organisation Design (The Economist). London: Profile Books

cov_stanfordguideTable of Contents: Introducing Organisation Design – Models, approaches and designs – Organisational structures – Planning and sequencing the organisation design – Measurement – Stakeholder engagement – Leadership and organisation design – Culture and group processes – Morphing not future proofing

Description: This guide sets out to provide insights and practical help on how to avoid the common mistakes made with enterprises set about restructuring themselves. Each chapter looks at a specific aspect of organisation design and is illustrated with real company example, and then concludes with a case study that demonstrates ways of tacking the particular issues.

Kates, A., Galbraith, J. R. (2007), Designing Your Organization: Using the STAR Model to Solve 5 Critical Design Challenges. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

cov_kates_galbraithDescription: Designing Your Organization is a hands-on guide that provides managers with a set of practical tools to use when making organization design decisions. Based on Jay Galbraith’s widely used Star Model, the book covers the fundamentals of organization design and offers frameworks and tools to help leaders execute their strategy. The authors address the five specific design challenges that confront most of today’s organizations: Designing around the customer; Organizing across borders; Making a matrix work; Solving the centralization–and decentralization dilemma; Organizing for innovation. By addressing those issues, they bring contemporary organization decisions into focus and provides clear advice to achieve business performance today and tomorrow.


Ackoff, R. L. (1999), Re-Creating the Corporation: A Design of Organizations for the 21st Century. New York: Oxford University Press

cov_ackoffTable of Contents: Background, The Nature of Systems – Types of Systems and Models – Types of Management – Process: Planning, Design, Implementation, and Learning, Formulating the Mess: Sensing and Making Sense of the Situation – Ends Planning: Where to Go – Means Planning: How to Get There – Resource Planning: What’s Needed to Get There – Implementation and Control: Doing It and Learning – Designs: Democracy, Economy, and Flexibility, A Democratic Hierarchy: The Circular Organization – The Internal Market Economy – The Permanently Structured Multidimensional Organization – Change: Reformations and Transformations, Panaceas, Fads, and Quick Fixes – Organizational Development and Transformational Leadership.

Description: Author lay out in clear concise prose five essential organizational goals: plan effectively, learn and adapt rapidly, democratize, introduce internal market economies, and employ a flexible structure that will minimize the need for future restructuring.


Nadler, D. A., Tushman, M. L., Nadler, M. B. (1997), Competing by Design: The Power of Organizational Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press

cov_nadlerTable of Contents: A Blueprint for Change – Mapping the Organizational Terrain – The Principles of Design – The Crucial Design Issues – Choosing a Basic Structure: Strategic Groups – Coordinating Work: Strategic Links – Designing at the Enterprise Level – Designing at the Operational Level – A Process for Design – Implementing New Designs – Knowing When to Redesign – The Lessons of Design

Description: Authors show that the last remaining source of truly sustainable competitive advantage lies in ‘organizational capabilities’: the unique ways each organization structures its work and motivates its people to achieve clearly articulated strategic objectives. For too long, too many managers have thought about “organization” merely in terms of rearranging the boxes and lines on an organizational chart-but as the book clearly illustrates, organizational strength is found far beyond one-dimensional diagrams. Managers must, argue Nadler and Tushman, understand the concepts and learn the skills involved in designing their organization to exploit their inherent strengths.


Mohrman, S. Cohen, S. G., Mohrman Jr., A. (1995), Designing Team-Based Organizations: New Forms for Knowledge Work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

cov_mohrmanTable of Contents: Organizations and Teams – Designing Organizations for Knowledge Work – Exploring the Contours of a Team-based Organization – The Design Sequence – Identifying Work Teams – Specifying Integration Needs – Clarifying Management Structure and Roles – Designing Integration Processes – Managing Performance – Implementation Concerns – Identifying New Responsibilities and Skills – Defining Empowerment for the Team Environment – Developing Organizational Support Systems – Making the Transition – Facing the Challenges Ahead

Description: This book breaks new ground in tackling organizational design issues related to the implementation of teams, with a specific focus on the new designs required to support the knowledge-work components of an organization.


Hupp, T., Polak, C., Westgaard, C. (1995), Designing Work Groups, Jobs and Work Flow. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

cov_huppTable of Contents: What Makes a Work Group or Department Effective? – Defining the Purpose and Scope of the Redesign Effort – Environmental Analysis: Identifying Critical Goals, Demands, and Constraints – Technical Process Analysis: Understanding How the Group Creates Its Products and Services – Human Systems Analysis: Understanding How People and Jobs Are Organized and Supported – Goal Design: Matching Work Group Goals to Environmental Demands – Technical Process Design: Building Speed, Focus, and Integration into the Flow of Work – Human Systems Design: Building Initiative and Teamwork into Jobs – Implementation: Managing the Transition from Plans to Reality – From Full Warehouse to Just-in-Time: Case Study of Redesigning the Brandon Companies Distribution Department

Description: In the book is presented an integrated approach to using the most powerful reengineering tools to design single work units that are productive, responsive, and build participant ownership and commitment. Furthermore, this practical tool kit includes techniques for analyzing and designing daily work flow, group structure, and job responsibilities of intact work groups. Useful when you need to get down to the nitty-gritty of job and work design.


Galbraith, J. R. (1994), Competing with Flexible Lateral Organizations. Reading: Addison-Wesley

cov_galbraith_competingTable of Contents: Lateral Organizational Capability – Lateral Coordination – Lateral Organization – Formal Lateral Groups – Integrating Roles – The Distributed Organization – Lateral Coordination Cases – Summary Thoughts

Description: This book focuses on creating competitive advantage by building a lateral capability, enabling a firm to respond flexibly in an uncertain world. The book addresses international coordination and cross-business unit coordination, as well as the usual cross-functional efforts.

Mintzberg, H. (1992), Structure in Fives: Designing Effective Organizations. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall

cov_mintzbergTable of Contents: Foundations of Organization Design – Designing Individual Positions – Designing The Superstructure – Fleshing Out The Superstructure – Untangling Decentralization – Fitting Design to Situation – Design as Configuration – The Simple Structure – The Machine Bureaucracy – The Professional Bureaucracy – The Divisionalized Form – The Adhocracy – Beyond Five

Description: The core theme of the book is that any organization is defined by the interaction of two key parameters: the division of labor and the means by which that division of labor is coordinated. An analysis of these interactions result in the discovery of 5 “ideal” organizational configurations which seem to be the building blocks used to “synthesize” all real organizations.

Shepard, K., Gray, J. L., Hunt, J. G. (2007), Organization Design, Levels of Work and Capability: Executive Guide. Toronto: Global Organization Design Society

cov_shepardTable of Contents: Part One: Perspectives on the Levels of Work Approach to Organizational Design – Part Two: Enhanced CEO Performance – Part Three: Major Applications of Levels of Work Approach – Part Four: Partial Applications of the Levels of Work Approach – Part Five: Fitting the Right Person to the Right Role at Right Time – Part Six: The Dynamics of Implementing the Levels of Work Approach – Part Seven: Development and Diffusion of Levels of Work Concepts

Description: This executive guide is written specifically for CEOs, their C-Level Team and General Managers who want to create highly productive, accountable organizations within which employees thrive in roles that suit their capability. It is based on the Elliott Jacques’ concept of a requisite organization, as well as on the Levels of Work Approach.


lets-stop-axelrodLet’s Stop Meeting Like This: Tools to Save Time and Get More Done Paperback – Aug 4 2014

Review: “By applying a fresh four-step process rooted in their benchmark research on engagement, the Axelrods offer a way to move meetings from something to be dreaded to a valuable and essential business tool.”


The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures: Simple Rules to Unleash a Culture of Innovation (Black and White Version) Paperback – Oct 28 2014

liberating-structuresHenri Lipmanowicz (Author), Keith McCandless (Author)

Smart leaders know that they would greatly increase productivity and innovation if only they could get everyone fully engaged. So do professors, facilitators and all changemakers. The challenge is how. Liberating Structures are novel, practical and no-nonsense methods to help you accomplish this goal with groups of any size.

Prepare to be surprised by how simple and easy they are for anyone to use. This book shows you how with detailed descriptions for putting them into practice plus tips on how to get started and traps to avoid. It takes the design and facilitation methods experts use and puts them within reach of anyone in any organization or initiative, from the frontline to the C-suite.

Part One: The Hidden Structure of Engagement will ground you with the conceptual framework and vocabulary of Liberating Structures. It contrasts Liberating Structures with conventional methods and shows the benefits of using them to transform the way people collaborate, learn, and discover solutions together.

Part Two: Getting Started and Beyond offers guidelines for experimenting in a wide range of applications from small group interactions to system-wide initiatives: meetings, projects, problem solving, change initiatives, product launches, strategy development, etc.

Part Three: Stories from the Field illustrates the endless possibilities Liberating Structures offer with stories from users around the world, in all types of organizations — from healthcare to academic to military to global business enterprises, from judicial and legislative environments to R&D.

Part Four: The Field Guide for Including, Engaging, and Unleashing Everyone describes how to use each of the 33 Liberating Structures with step-by-step explanations of what to do and what to expect.

Discover today what Liberating Structures can do for you, without expensive investments, complicated training, or difficult restructuring. Liberate everyone’s contributions — all it takes is the determination to experiment

The Handbook of Large Group Methods: Creating Systemic Change in Organizations and Communities Hardcover – Jun 16 2006

handbook-group-methodsBarbara Benedict Bunker (Author), Billie T. Alban (Author)

Large Group Interventions are methods used to gather a whole system together to discuss and take action on the target agenda. That agenda varies from future plans, products, and services, to redesigning work, to discussion of troubling issues and problems. The Handbook of Large Group Methods takes the next step in demonstrating through a series of cases how Large Group Methods are currently being used to address twenty-first-century challenges in organizations and communities today, including:

  • Working with widely dispersed organizations, and the problem of involvement and participation
  • Working with organizations facing a serious business crisis
  • Working with organizations in polarized and politicized environments
  • Working in community settings with diverse interest groups
  • Working at the global level and adapting these methods for cross-cultural use
  • Embedding and sustaining new patterns of working together in organizations and communities

The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today’s Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems Paperback – Jan 1 2007

change-handbookPeggy Holman (Author), Tom Devane (Author), Steven Cady (Author)

“What the Encyclopedia Britannica does for facts and the Oxford English Dictionary does for words, this book does for changing whole systems (both organizations and communities).” -Martin Rutte, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work

The Change Handbook is the only book that presents a wide variety of change methods from around the world-updated with the latest change methods, including cutting-edge technologies.

Terms Of Engagement – Second Edition, Richard Axelrod

cov_terms_axelrodBuilding engagement is crucial for every organization. But the traditional top-down coercive change management paradigm—in which leaders “light a fire” under employees—actually discourages engagement.

Richard Axelrod offers a better way. After debunking six common change management myths, he offers a proven, practical strategy for getting everyone—not just select committees or working groups—enthusiastically committed to organizational transformation. This revised edition features new interviews—everyone from the vice president of global citizenship at Cirque du Soleil to a Best Buy clerk—and new neuroscience findings that support Axelrod’s model. It also shows how you can foster engagement through everyday conversations, staff meetings, and work design.

“Dick is a wizard. This book is important. Few people in the world of transformation have Dick’s insights, concrete thinking,
and methods for making change stick.”- Peter Block, author of Stewardship, Flawless Consulting, The Answer is Yes


 You Don’t Have To Do It Alone – Richard Axelrod, Emily Axelrod, Julie Beedon, Jay Jacobs

You Don't Have To To It Alone“This book is an excellent resource — use it!”— Ken Blanchard – The One Minute Manager and Full Steam Ahead!

“A complete blueprint for involving others” and “the best of the current crop of books on this topic.”
— Paul R. Brown, New York Times Columnist

Most people in organizations tend to manage projects either as realists or humanists. You Don’t Have to Do It Alone brings together the practical view of the realist and the people-oriented view of the humanist, combining the best of both approaches into one role: the “Pragmatic Involver.” Covering everything from solving a nagging long-term problem at work that could save a company millions of dollars, to launching a community movement to improve local schools, the book shows how involving others in a project while maintaining one’s focus on the nuts-and-bolts details can make big things happen.

Using the authors’ six major questions – each of which is explored in detail – You Don’t Have to Do It Alone shows how success can be attained in a project on any scale, from redesigning a manufacturing process at a paper mill to creating an effective youth center.

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