Proactive Strategies for Successful Team Reorganizations

May 23, 2023

In the previous newsletter, we delved into the defining traits of strong teams and indicators signaling the need for team evolution

This edition will illuminate the pitfalls leading to painful reorganizations and propose an approach to embrace Re-org Driven Development (RDD).

Common Pitfalls Leading to Dreaded Reorganizations

Reorganizations often occur reactively when the discomfort stemming from the current structure surpasses the resistance to change. This process typically unfolds slowly, with problems gradually escalating, triggering minor crises, and ultimately leading to a significant event that necessitates massive restructuring.

Below are examples of team structures that can contribute to such a scenario:

  1. Siloed Teams: These units work in isolation, resulting in poor communication, minimal collaboration, and disjointed efforts toward common goals.
  2. Interdependent Teams: These teams rely heavily on others, with their success directly tied to the output of different teams.
  3. Leadership-Dependent Teams: Teams overly reliant on their leaders may struggle with initiative and suffer from low morale and decreased productivity in the leader's absence.
  4. Teams Without Clear Goals: Teams lacking a shared understanding of their objectives often lack direction and struggle to align their efforts effectively.
  5. Homogeneous Teams: Teams with limited diversity in skills, backgrounds, and perspectives may lack the capacity for innovation and adaptability.
  6. Overworked Teams: Teams burdened with excessive workloads may experience burnout, decreased morale, and diminished productivity.
  7. High-Cognitive Load Teams: Teams overwhelmed with complex tasks extending beyond their immediate expertise.
  8. Static Teams: Teams delivering pieces of projects, divided according to organizational design via a centralized function (like a PMO or architecture).

Towards Re-org Driven Development (RDD)

Successful organizations thrive by continually adjusting their products and services to meet the evolving demands of the market

They should apply the same adaptability principle to their design. This entails linking roadmaps with organizational design:

  1. Establish roadmaps: Aim for a nine-month timeline for exploitation products, while accepting shorter horizons for exploration products.
  2. Develop a global architecture roadmap: Incorporate the necessary changes to facilitate new product features, projected scale growth (with a buffer), and accommodate regulatory requirements.
  3. Evaluate domains: Utilize Domain-Driven Design (DDD) to model significant domain changes (new, split, obsolete).
  4. Reshape Teams: Favor product-oriented domains over technical ones. Consolidate repeat capabilities into platform teams if the added value outweighs the cost of dependency. Ensure all teams exhibit the Characteristics of a Strong Team.
  5. Assess Team Locations: For US-based businesses with US customers, align team locations with their domain roadmap horizon. Consider offshoring for exploitative products with stable roadmaps, and onshore for explorative products with short roadmaps.
  6. Consolidate leadership layers: Aim to group related teams under as few leadership tiers as possible. A handful of directors/VPs can manage hundreds of individuals.

This process should be a periodic exercise. Aim for about 12% of changes on a quarterly basis. This approach avoids a gradual decline in organization and facilitates measured changes, leading to a full reorganization over about two years. Coincidentally, this aligns with the average tenure of technology employees - offering them a new challenge just when they might be seeking one.


Progressive, deliberate reorganizations provide a way to reshape company structures at a pace that safeguards against dramatic events and supports a natural adaptation to meet changing market demands. This is easily achievable once the mechanisms that foster strong teams are central to the process.

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