Royal Society of Arts
Category: Change

The Royal Society of Arts is a membership organisation that provides a range of services – facilities, programmes, change stimulus, grant giving. For a small group it’s highly complex and has a unique way of working that is highly collaborative and egalitarian.

Whilst this provided many benefits, it also allowed the organisational structure to morph out of shape over time, eventually resulting in an unbalanced organisational structure that no longer effectively supported the work of the Society. Linked to this, the lack of process and governance in areas such as budgeting and people management had started to yield issues that were not easily resolved.

We were asked to work alongside another organisation to help the Society re-scope its structure and core processes in the people and tasking areas. We undertook a wider audit of their structure and engaged the entire RSA in conversations around effective working, core competencies and what they required to be better able to deliver on the Society remit.

Ultimately, we worked them towards a whole new operating structure, that streamlined and simplified the organisation, as well as removing the many matrix links and ‘fudges’ that had been put in place to avoid tough performance conversations. Alongside this, we built in new tools and processes for people management – job families, competencies, review flows and budgeting plans.

Our ‘critical friend’ approach was highlighted as a key part of the process and success point – we were relentless in our challenge and principles around how their organisation design process should flow, and calling out any avoidance of tough conversations and situations. We enabled the new operating model and provided the people team with the tools and focus to continue the work.