Consultant breakfast on organisational design at Eden McCallum’s new Amsterdam offices

10 November 2016

In its new Amsterdam offices, Eden McCallum recently hosted a consultant breakfast meeting on organisational design. Herman Vantrappen, one of Eden McCallum’s independent consultants and expert in this field, held a short presentation, followed by a facilitated discussion. Marjon Wanders and Wouter van Essenberg reflect on this first breakfast meeting.

A good opportunity to connect and share ideas

A good opportunity to connect and share ideas

Q: Why did you decide to organise this breakfast?

Wouter: This is the first consulting breakfast in the Amsterdam office, intended for consultants to connect with Eden McCallum and with each other and share ideas. While there are many advantages to living the life of an independent consultant, one often mentioned down-side is not having many colleagues with whom to share experiences and ideas. This breakfast series aims to help fulfil part of that need.

The insights and dilemmas Herman presented resonated with our consultants

Q: What was discussed, and did any new insights occur?

Wouter: Herman Vantrappen explained different organisational models, including matrix organisations. It was interesting to see that everyone could relate to these models from their own experience. With regard to matrix organisations, some people have strong feelings, and not always positive…

Marjon: Herman explained in his presentation that oftentimes companies that operate in a matrix design have actually only half-heartedly implemented the matrix. When you see dotted lines occur, this is a sign that the organisational design is not a true matrix.  It typically means that the requirements to make a matrix organisation function are not fully met, for example that target setting is not a joint responsibility, or that it isn’t clear who plays what role in dealing with a customer.

Herman Vantrappen presenting

A half-hearted matrix implementation can easily become dysfunctional and cause many inefficiencies and even conflicts. During the breakfast we discussed a number of ways in which companies can address those issues.

Q: What’s next?

Wouter: Given the positive feedback of the participants, we will definitely organise another consultant breakfast session sometime in early 2017.

For those who are interested to read more about Herman’s work, please take a look at his recent publication in Harvard Business Review.