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A Global Aerospace Company Excels with an Agile Approach to Organization Design


A global aerospace and defense company needed to expedite the traditional organization design process to fit their timeline. Instead of starting a traditional organization design process that could take six months to a year to complete, they partnered with GP Strategies® to implement an agile organization design approach. The process focused on addressing the client’s most pressing needs first and then iterated on delivering the other components of the organization design over time. This enabled them to deliver better cross-functional services to their customers in a shorter span of time.

Custom agile strategies to improve business processes.


In the two years that the client’s corporate workforce transformation team had been in existence, their strategic priorities changed twice, the team doubled in size, and there was confusion regarding roles and responsibilities. The team played a critical role in supporting the company’s digital transformation program by providing organizational culture change, skills reinvention, and behavioral change management support to the business areas. The team struggled with how to deliver against their service level agreements (SLAs) while providing optimal value given the complexity of the internal landscape, a multitude of concurrent transformation activities, and limited resources.


As part of the organization design consulting team at GP Strategies, consultants conducted a condensed organizational assessment to identify the root cause of the most significant issues. It became clear that the workforce transformation team was in need of strategic direction, clarity of roles and responsibilities, and a clear operating model and menu of services to clarify their roles and responsibilities to their business partners. As a result, it was determined that the organization design needed a refresh—but the aerospace and defense company did not have time for the traditional organization design process that could take six months to a year to complete. To address this, GP Strategies developed a unique organization design approach that was agile, iterative, and effective for this team. Though still adhering to the basic tenets of GP Strategies’ holistic organizational design approach (shown below), we tailored the iterations of the organization design process to specifically meet the urgent needs of our client so they could effectively respond to the fast-paced speed of their business. Whereas a full-blown organization design would complete all components of the design prior to implementing the changes, our approach focused on creating a minimum viable product, or a first iteration of the full design, focusing the most attention on the highest priority items for our client. This gave us the ability to pilot the new design iteratively and expand on it over time to not only quickly meet the demand needs, but also to ensure the design could flex and adapt with the organization throughout their enterprise-wide transformations.

The modified approach included the following process steps for the first iteration:

  1. Align on strategic direction and priorities; only include the top two or three in scope for the first iteration.
  2. Define the highest priority work that the organization will perform.
  3. Create an intake process to scope, prioritize, and allocate resources to perform the work on an ongoing basis.
  4. Create clear governance processes for decision-making.
  5. Identify key performance indicators, metrics, and feedback mechanisms to iterate in the organization design for continuous improvement.
  6. Monitor and report success; celebrate quick wins and achievements.
  7. Share best practices and lessons learned with other teams.

The GP Strategies team reviewed and addressed a few challenges that the workforce transformation team encountered:

  1. The tight timeframe proved to be a challenge for the organization design; however, with the use of technology—using a variety of content and work management tools, such as Confluence and Jira, as well as collaboration tools, such as Slack and Box—key decisions were able to be made more efficiently.
  2. Continuity: We conducted the organization design over two weeks in smaller workshops versus a three to five day “off-site” workshop done in traditional organization design approaches. It was challenging to get the right stakeholders in the right meetings consistently, so pre-meeting preparation and post-meeting follow-ups were critical for keeping everyone engaged and aligned.
  3. Due to the time constraints, we only addressed the highest priority components of the organization design framework in the first iteration. We relied on existing documentation, past decisions, and assumptions to maintain momentum.


The GP Strategies team developed and implemented, along with the client, a clear service model to be used with business partners allowing the client to respond to business needs faster and with greater process efficiency. This model helped to define clear roles, responsibilities, and priorities within the client’s workforce transformation team that in turn provided strategic direction and increased productivity. It also enabled the client to provide support to 12 digital transformation projects, provide just-in-time solutions, and meet SLAs.

The client has seen a significant uptick in process improvement and team alignment since implementing this agile design model. The organization design work created interest in replicating the process across multiple teams throughout the aerospace and defense company.

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