Don't be misguided by the formal organisational structure


For over a hundred years, and to this very day, the formal organizational structure has been the guiding factor in corporate change processes.


Today, existing and newly hired senior executives are expected to lead or sponsor numerous change processes every year. 9 out of 10 times, the executive will take a close look at his/her formal organizational structure and often let this be the principal guiding factor of who to bring on to the Change Process Core Team, who to appoint Change Ambassadors etc.



In reality, the formal organization should be the last place to look for guidance.



Rather, the organization networks, interpersonal relations and connectivity hold the key to accelerated and successful change.[1]


When it comes to internal change programs, you need to engage 30 percent of the workplace fast to achieve sustainable change[2] and the key to any successful and accelerated change program is based on in-depth understanding of the informal organizational networks. In fact, case studies indicate that if you can identify the right three percent of the employees, then you can reach 85 to 90 percent of the informal organizational networks[3]. In essence, it is the ability to identify and activate the right three percent that will make the difference between success and failure in a change process.


At TRANSEARCH International in Copenhagen, we have found that more than 80% of our placed senior executives will have initiated a change process before the end of their first 90 days in the job. So, after 90 days how well do the newly hired senior executives know their organization and who to appoint key drivers of their change process? The answer is: They haven’t got a clue. As a consequence, they resort to the formal organizational structure and the superficial insights they have gained from 90 days of interaction with small parts of the organization as their knowledge platform. Perhaps this is why more than 40% of senior executives either fail to achieve the desired results, quit or are pushed out of the organization within 18 months[4].


As a result, when performing CXO searches, we recommend the hiring board or leadership team to conduct organizational network analyses as a valuable insights and onboarding tool for both the new candidate and the board/leadership team with the purpose of identifying and later activating the “connectors” and “key influencers” that embody the “valuable three percent” – namely the people that will be the defining factor in delivering fast and sustainable change.




[1] Hansgaard, J. V., Dragon, L., Speairs, K. (2016): “PCCA hits a homerun with its culture”

[2] Hansgaard, J.V. (2015): “The Ketchup Effect sets in at 30 percent”.

[3] Hansgaard, J. V., Dragon, L., Speairs, K. (2016): “PCCA hits a homerun with its culture”

[4] Masters, B. (2009). Rise of a headhunter

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