Restructuring an Organization: Start with Brainstorming

Developing a new organizational structure is difficult for any business or team, and often requires intense brainstorming. Axion Design, a firm in San Anselmo, CA, used brainstorming sessions to discover how to integrate a large group of new employees into a 30-year-old company. The firm’s managers knew they would need to envision goals and create a new company mission. “We were a company in transition,” explains Ellen Baker, Axion’s creative director. “And a lot of our clients were in transition, too.”

The Axion brainstorming session included participants ranging from the owner to senior managers. The session was held at an off-site location in an effort to remove employees from their traditional environment. To help them mentally distance themselves from their workplace roles, facilitator Brody Hartman created a level playing field for all participants. He brought in percussive, nontalent-based instruments and made musical inspiration the theme of the session. Working on a rhythm together allowed brainstormers to discover their own musical “voices” while contributing to the group dynamic.

After a day-long brainstorming session, the participants had created a rough draft of their new mission statement. Now Baker believes the firm has the structure and expectations it needs.

HOW June 1999