Organisation design, if practiced well, falls into the category of being an ‘industrial and commercial art’. The man that came up with a really practical model for organisation design was Jay Galbraith, and he came up with the Galbraith STAR model. I don’t know if Mr Galbraith ever built a bike shed or workshop using his methodology, but that’s exactly what is in the following steps.

So, without getting all theoretical, let’s get straight into application with starting point number 1…………….

Strategy – Rule (& learning) number 1: Always start with the end in mind.

Your bike shed must have ‘soul baby’. So, what do you want your bike shed to look like? Feel like? Smell like? How big is it? Does it have windows which get the midday sun? How many bikes will you have/want/need? C’mon, don’t kid yourself here. If you’ve only got one bike now and your shed is big enough for more, you’ll fill it.
How will tools be stored? Will you have a bike workstand? Is it heated? How much storage cupboard space will you need? What bench tools, like a wheel builders jig, will you have? What facilities do you need like (primarily) Wi-fi, lighting, electricity, compressed air, music system, fridge, outside toilet (really, some do!)? etc? How secure is it? Room for your achievement wall? What will make you proud of it? Advice: Don’t drink and strategise! You’ll get silly. The drinks bars, pool tables, huge home cinemas etc should be left to the ‘(wo)man-cave-bicycle-Motorcycle-classic car-classic shoes/handbag’ brigades. Don’t say you haven’t been warned about designing-in pretentiousness!
There will be more questions to ask yourself in order to truly visualise it before you can move onto the next step, which is:

Structure – Rule number 2: Don’t jump to this before you’ve done strategy AND engaged all stakeholders.

I use the term structure, carefully here. It does not refer to construction and how your bike shed is made. It refers to the roles regarding the running of your bike shed. Now, obviously, its you who will run it, have ultimate governance (like what music will be played etc), but there will be others implicated in your design, and who will be key players. For example, will you share the bike shed with a partner? How will communication flow between your shed and the outside world? What roles will others around you play and will it involve a level of change in the way people interact (i.e. Will you be in the shed more than in the house?).

Change needs to be thought through & managed. What will the project journey, timing and budget all look like to realise your end goal? Will you report to anyone else or will they report to you in the new structure? Is the structure a collaborative, matrix network of friends, service providers etc? How will you work with other key power holders, decision makers and influencers? Too many questions?… on.

Shed processes – Rule number 3: It is NOT NORMAL to spend the first half hour of the job looking for the right tool!

Careful thought needs to be given to effective shed layout, and accompanying ways of working. If you’re going to be overhauling your bike, where do you start? Where do you put stuff that you’ve removed from the bike? Can the sound system be used with oily hands? Should blue rubber gloves be worn? The processes that will take place in your shed must/should always, drive the internal layout and organisation. Synergies and relationships between tool chest and the bike need to be identified. How does life in your shed fit into the rest of your own and others lives? This is the part of the organisation design process that will deliver your strategy – Ha!

Human Resources – Rule number 4: Creating a culture where sarcasm and supportiveness work together…..maybe.

Firstly, you’ll need some additional resources to get your shed up and running. This will range from recruiting (and retaining) planning and construction support, through to agreeing service level agreements with service providers (those that will bring you cups of tea, cake and the parcel of bike bits that’s just been delivered to ‘the big house’). Setting the tone of your shed culture is key to enabling smooth running processes and how other people behave inside your space. Equally importantly, setting the appropriate perception of your ‘shed organisation’ to those that might not have general access/invitation to it, is absolutely key. People don’t need to know what actually goes on in there, but the perception of it should be positive to others. Maybe.

 Recognition and reward – Rule number 5: Only ever offer a reward for a missing Unicorn? C’mon…….

The very first level of recognition goes to him/her/those who have supported (read as: permitted) the project to go ahead in the first place. Recognition also is not always ‘a one-off’), so don’t be selfish with others just because YOU got your shed! Secondly, you need to reward the construction team. A good opening shed party always goes down well and anniversaries are good to celebrate in addition (so that’ll be annual shed parties then). Finally, you’ve been a successful designer of your new shed organisation, and in realising your strategy, so the biggest reward should go to yourself (tax free of course). Whilst considering this last reward, make sure you’ve got good internet access for those dark nights ‘self-rewarding-e-shopping’.


Of course, it’s implicit in all of the above that you need a good project plan…….

Finally, the above is for those who are actively designing a new shed. For those that already have a shed which is inefficient, too cold, not big enough, faces the wrong way etc, you can follow the above in the same manner and call it ‘organisation development’ instead.

Have Fun!

Shed STAR & jersey photo by Rodrigo Macip.

All other photos by the author.