Organisational Design

Courses designed to put theory into practice

Workers in an office

Two days

This course is designed to challenge managers to consider organisational problems from a systemic perspective and to consider their role as an organisational designer.

What is it?

The course aims to introduce delegates to socio-technical systems thinking and frameworks with a view to helping managers to recognise interdependencies between technical and human aspects of organisations.

The course aims to encourage delegates to rethink how they look at the decisions the are faced with and the choices that they make.

The course will prepare executives for the process of design and consider different strategies to undertake the process effectively. 'Systems thinking' will be suggested as a mind set to help recognise the knock-on implications that can often arise for other departments or functions from a manager's decision.

The course will equip managers with the confidence to apply a socio-technical systems framework and thinking to help analyse and learn lessons from past events.

The course will introduce a range of tools and techniques that can be used to help define, generate, analyse and select between different designs and management choices. A variety of problems will be introduced and used as worked examples to highlight the spectrum from tame to wicked problems (e.g. IT design, knowledge management systems, office design etc).

Delegates will be encouraged to help set the direction of discussion by offering examples of organisational issues that they face, or have faced, for use in the workshop tasks.

Who should attend?

The course highlights the strengths of drawing on a wide range of expertise when pursuing organisational design and analysis. As a consequence, the tools and ideas introduced in this course would be highly relevant across business functions including: IT, project management, facilities management, procurement, HR, learning and development, research and development, customer relations and marketing.

The course is designed to appeal to middle and senior managers, in particular individuals with significant decision making responsibilities.

What are the benefits?

Outcomes for delegates:

  • New ways of looking at old problems
  • A whole systems and cross-disciplinary approach to solving problems in organisations
  • An appreciation of interplays between technical and human behaviour aspects of complex organisational systems
  • A toolkit to identify and analyse past, present and future 'wicked problems'
  • A tool to evaluate competing design choices
  • Opportunity to experience applying the tools to real problems encountered by course delegates


Day 1
  • Systems thinking - An introduction to socio-technical systems principles and discussion around thinking of organisations as complex human-technical systems.
  • Understanding problems - Delegates will be introduced to current thinking on the characterisation of so-called 'wicked-problems' and how these might be used to explain and clarify current challenges they face within their own organisations.
  • Learning lessons through systems analysis - Discussion of common aspects underlying systems failures. Introduction of systems tool and technique to analyse past and current problems/systems. Analysis and discussion of past disasters and organisational failures to put principles into practice and illustrate commonalities.
Day 2
  • Thinking like a designer - An introduction to design processes and thinking. Understanding needs, creative thinking, the importance of design, prototyping and stage-gated processes. Delegates will be introduced to theoretical perspectives and given opportunities to use these perspectives to address real-world problems.
  • Acting like a designer - An introduction to design communication methods and their application, with the socio-technical systems framework and mind-sets introduced in day 1 to solve problems.
  • Making informed decisions: Evaluating competing design options - Introduction to tools and processes to help systematically consider the costs, benefits and implications of differing design and management choices. Delegates will have the opportunity to apply these tools to problems they have provided on the day followed by a discussion regarding the ongoing nature of design and the need to 'close the loop'.

This course is delivered by the Socio-Technical Centre (STC).

The Socio-Technical Centre is a multi-disciplinary research group based in Leeds University Business School involving colleagues from across the University of Leeds. They work closely with leading private and public sector organisations (including Rolls-Royce, Arup, NHS and Yorkshire Water) to put people at the heart of design. They improve the design of buildings, infrastructure, jobs, ways or working and IT systems. Their research covers the areas of change management, knowledge management, sustainability and systems design. They draw upon knowledge from psychology, management, engineering, health and environmental sciences and couple this with a socio-technical systems framework and holistic mind-set to address challenging real-world problems.

Contact us

Executive Education Team

For further information please contact the Executive Education Team.


Tel: +44 (0)113 344 3911