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Ken Shepard

Ken Shepard

The Global Organization Design Society’s response to a blog post by Forrest Christian:

Perhaps Requisite Organization is going viral under the radar!

With similar concerns as you, Forrest, just after Elliott Jaques’ memorial service in 2003, a group of senior practitioners formed the Global Organization Design Society in an effort to prevent Requisite Organization (RO), a powerful, total system model for organizational effectiveness, from dying with its creator.

Since that time, our efforts have been steadfast. The Society has:

  • Hosted bi-annual world conferences with presenters granting permission for Society use of all materials for educational purposes.
  • Built a collaborative, cooperative culture with many joint ventures, and generous sharing of intellectual property by consultants and companies world-wide.
  • Created a rich web-site with an extensive collection of videos of CEO interviews and presentations, books and articles.
  • Developed a professional development program including E-learning and workshops.
  • Awarded scholarships to our professional development program and conferences for academics, doctoral students, and senior managers in the not-for-profit sector.
  • Published a multi-author book documenting RO use around the world: Organization Design – Levels of Work Complexity and Human Capability. (Free download after registering)
  • Assembled the Fifth Edition of Ken Craddock’s Requisite Organization Annotated Bibliography – 1800 pages – which has stimulated a resurgence of related research

How many practitioners have we developed? — a guestimate!

  • GO Society affiliated consultants have mentored younger associates in their small firms and trained thousands of managers in their client systems.
  • Requisite Organization International Institute affiliated consultants have done the same.
  • The Levinson Institute, the educational component ofLevinson&Co., has trained thousands of executives, managers, and consultants in its five-day workshops since 1968.
  • Bioss, a global consulting firm using levels of work complexity, has a network of 300 plus practitioners training both its new consultants and managers in its client systems.
  • The Tata Group since 2000 has used work levels in its talent pool management across its over 100 operating companies comprising over 450,000 employees in over 80 countries. Tata Strategic Management Group (consultants) uses work levels in its consulting for Tata companies and for its non-Tata clients throughout the world.
  • Requisite Organization is taught in 26 university courses in Buenos Aires.
  • Please record your own efforts to train new Requisite Organization practitioners and your ideas for what the society should do.

How many organizations benefit from Requisite Organization?

We see only the tip of the iceberg of RO use and when we gather the evidence in one place, we are surprised that that “tip” is far larger than most of us would have believed.

The society’s list now includes 122 organizations that have gone public about their use of these methods. Please add others you know about. We invite the Requisite Organization International Institute, Bioss, and Tata Consultancy Services to publish the names of client organizations who have gone public about their RO use.

In the unseen base of the iceberg, we know that many organizations consider their use of Requisite Organization proprietary and others may not be aware of the methods used by their consultants.

Also unseen, RO concepts live unrecognized in the common acceptance of the five-level business unit and in broad-banded compensation systems throughout the Fortune 100 and many other organizations in many countries.

We believe Requisite Organization is alive and well. Will RO die? Not if we can help it!


Ken Shepard Ph.D.
Global Organization Design Society
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Thanks to Forrest Christian of Manasclerk Company for permitting the society to republish this blog that I had written for Forrest's blog.

(This statement is part of a Participation Agreement that all of the Society's core affiliates sign.I hope that you will read it carefully.Your comments are welcome. Please post comments you feel will contribute to  a quality public dialogue below. You may send any questions or private comments to me personally at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

While GO Society’s associates and fellows agree to support the Society’s purpose, we come to our organizational work from different disciplines, different sectors, different functions, different roles and levels of organizations, and different interests in improving organizational effectiveness.

What we hold in common is appreciation, knowledge, and experience in a systems approach to designing and managing organizations that is based on foundational concepts about understanding and organizing complexity in work settings developed by Lord Wilfred Brown and Elliott Jaques. This approach, over the years variously called “The Glacier Project”, “Stratified Systems Theory”, and “Requisite Organization” includes well-defined, researched, and tested concepts of levels of work complexity, levels of human capability, accountability, and effective managerial leadership practices.

We recognize the discovery that organizational systems have a direct and substantial impact both on the personal achievement of people at work and on the capacity of organizations to create wealth for society, and that as a consequence of this the design and implementation of such systems carry strong moral and ethical implications.

While we all appreciate this systems approach and these concepts, we again differ as to which and how many of the concepts we emphasize in our individual practices and how we may integrate them with other theories and skills that we use in our organizational work.A few examples:

  • Some associates and fellows work in organization design – some doing partial design perhaps stopping after redesigning levels, roles and staffing; others specializing in redesigning only specific functions such as marketing or human resources; while others may take a more comprehensive approach using the concepts to help in redesigning organization strategy, the level of the organization, levels of work, functional alignment, role design, staffing, accountabilities and authorities, lateral relationships, assessment, talent pool management, and compensation.
  • Some associates specialize in talent pool work, some specializing primarily in expert based individual assessment using a variety of approaches, some approaches being open source and some proprietary, others working with the managerial group educating and coaching them in making assessments as part of their manager-once-removed, and manager accountabilities aligning these assessments in two-level managerial group calibration meetings. Some who specialize in assessment may or may not also do individual role design or other aspects of organization design.
  • Some may specialize in providing consulting services in support of the CEO in selecting and aligning the senior management team and may continue to support the CEO and his/her team to design a new strategy and implementing it.
  • Some implement requisite concepts in a different order and with different style – some beginning with values and systems design, others beginning with developing effective managerial practices while supporting managers in doing their on-going work, and some may start with organizational diagnosis including time-span interviews.
  • Some may work as general managers or their staff support and use understanding of these principles and concepts in their daily work.
  • Some may combine this requisite systems approach with other approaches to organizational improvement – after careful analysis of how to adapt their methods drawn from other sources so that they do not violate core Requisite Organization principles and concepts; e.g. some may use both requisite and Lean Six Sigma methods after carefully determining that the requisite work should be done first and that the Lean Six Sigma work should be organized and accountabilities assigned according to requisite principles.

In summary, we all have and celebrate our own educational foundations, skilled knowledge, and experience in improving organizations, and in this document we all agree to our common science based principles and concepts described above in general terms.

We also agree to participate in a continuing dialogue on the continuous evolution of these ideas both in a private area of the web and in face-to-face meetings, helping GO Society associates and fellows to come to broad agreement on what specifically is included and is not included in this commonly held requisite approach, and what we should encourage all Society affiliates to endeavor to master.

 Wilfred Brown and Elliott Jaques spoke and wrote about their original concept breakthroughs as “The Glacier Project”.  

Then Jaques writing alone called his approach Stratified Systems Theory.  

Jaques’s colleagues at BIOSS (Brunel Institute of Organizational and Social Studies) adapted these concepts and called their approaches The Work Levels Approach and The Matrix of Working Relationships. At a later stage in his theoretical work, Jaques renamed his now more complete management system Requisite Organization.  

Subsequently, various colleagues Jaques mentored created their own copyrighted names for their own derivative approaches, Accountability Leadership, Accountability Based Organization Design, Accountability Based Management, Organization Design, etc. Some practitioners credit Jaques and some do not.
Third-generation practitioners with some adaptation call their work DMA, Decision Making Accountability, The Integrated Model, amongst others.  

What’s in anonymity?

A large number of practitioners use the methods without naming them at all.  

We have evidence that these methods were introduced to GE in the early 1970s and again in the 1980s and that they became part of GE’s five-level business units and their talent pool management and broad banding systems, yet key people in the company are unaware of the original source of these ideas: the DNA lives without recognition.

A number of companies describe these same levels of work and accountability concepts as their own management system when communicating with employees and stakeholders: The Roche Management System, The Novus Management System, The Tembec Management System, et. al. Some credit Jaques, some do not.

How hard must our audiences work to connect the dots? -- to see that these variously named efforts are essentially the same?

So some observers say that levels-and-accountability-based organization design (Brown’s and Jaques’s work) is dying. They read the business press and no longer see articles about Elliott Jaques or organizations using these concepts. They may read the best selling book on talent management, The Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company by Ram Charan et al, but can’t connect the dots to see that the described system represents the living spirit of Brown’s and Jaques’s Glacier Project in GE, one of the world’s most admired corporations.  The same DNA lives largely unrecognized in Unilever, Shell, and Tesco.

Some of us in the Society hypothesize that major applications of the work are unseen like the base of an iceberg. While Six-Sigma has a copyrighted training system to produce its famous black belts, with regard to the levels-and-accountability work, a chain of events and market forces have led to various copyrighted names to describe essentially similar work. As a result we find ourselves in a market place with no single flag or brand to help managers recognize the work we do, connect the dots and appreciate the work’s extent and importance.

Should we be concerned?

Raising our own consciousness first, then others'

At incorporation, our Society considered taking the name, Global Requisite Organization.   However, as requisite organization was the title of a copyrighted book, we registered ourselves as the Global Organization Design Society.
The scope of Ken Craddock’s Requisite Organization Annotated Bibliography surprised Elliott Jaques and all of us all with the extent of research, writing and application over the years.  
The Society’s seven years of video interviews, conferences, and publications documenting the work have provided further foundation, confidence and connectedness among us.
We must now look to explore what we can do to strengthen our individual and collective messaging to tell the world about this important work.

Your comments on the options you see before us are most welcome!
Monday, 19 July 2010 20:29

Corporate Foresight?

Do CEOs with foresight choose requisite organization, or
does requisite organization support executives in appropriate corporate foresight?
or both?

Requisite organization principles describe how Presidents at stratum V, EVPs at VI, and CEOs at VII ought to be capable of working on longer term tasks of  5-10, 11-20, and 20 + years to properly implement the organization's strategy.

Yet at the World Future Society* conference in Boston, July 7-10th, where future is defined as beyond five years,  while there were many smart, grey haired people there I got the impression that a small minority of the many workshops were targeted at organizational settings and that a small percent of attendees or presenters were corporate executives.

Several futurist elders claimed that their organizational clients were interested in nothing beyond three to five years -- normally the work of vice-presidents.   A popular futurist speaker being recruited to shake up a major conference of European CEOs said he was told that his talk had to be about short term shocks.

A major WFS conference focus was on the rapid rate of technological change, methods to forecast that change and the approaching Singularity when computers are predicted to be more powerful than human brains. However several presenters on these topics said that their methods were of interest mostly to senior engineers and attempts at introduction often lacked the support of VPs.

It appeared that much environmental scanning work important to effective strategic planning is being out-sourced to major consulting firms.  Internal staff who prepare such scans in several global corporations reported their role was three levels from the top, that their outputs were power point presentations, that they did not know how or if they were used.  They received few questions or feedback on their work.

One panel of corporate futurist staffers reported that none of them had any direct knowledge about how many hours or days their company's top team spent discussing the future and indicated that their impression was that top teams dealt extensively with shorter term operational problems.

Why are the futurists in such despair about corporate interest?

Are structural features of the trading of public companies and other forces causing senior executive work to be compressed?

Are CEO sponsors of major requisite organization projects different in their long-term orientation?

Sir Roderick Carnegie, long-term CEO of CRA said that he was searching in the mid 1970s for a management approach that would help transform Australia's labour relations and competitive position in the world.   Other CEO sponsors of long-running RO projects have expressed similar long term views.

Or does requisite organization structure enable executives to do their appropriate longer term work?

Your comments are welcome.

*"The World Future Society is a nonprofit, nonpartisan scientific and educational association of people interested in how social and technological developments are shaping the future. The Society was founded in 1966 and is chartered as a nonprofit educational and scientific organization in Washington, D.C., U.S.A." 

Help us to help you!
Log in and update your profile to indicate your interests so we can serve you.

We've been collecting requisite organization-related materials on our web site for seven years.  

Colleagues have said,"We've got a mass of material here.  It's overwhelming!   Point out the best and the newest.  Help us find what we need."

In answer to these exhortations, we are going to help in several ways:

  • Each month we'll send you a newsletter recommending a few of the best and some of the newest resources on the site...providing convenient links for you to click on.
  • Follow us on Twitter and we will notify you immediately when new materials are posted.

Action: 1) Go to and create your own free Twitter account. 2) Then sign up to follow "gosociety".

  • We are proceeding to put tag words on our resources so that they will pop up when you put your key words in our site search engine.
  • If you will tell us more about your interests by updating your account profile on the site,  we will design special pages around your interests. We will also send special emails to notify you about new resources related to your particular interests.

Action: 1) Create a new account at: or, log in to your account and then update your profile at:

So log in to your account now.  The place to do it is in the upper right hand corner of each page.  If you've forgotten your password, click for a reminder.  

Once you are logged in, then find below your log in in the right hand column a place to create/edit your profile.  Click "edit", then click "update your profile".  You will see several tabs.  Update your contact information, registration info indicating your interests, and your biography.

Then click update.

Thanks for helping us to organize to help you!

Monday, 10 May 2010 12:45

The GO society's stage two?

A small group of passionate practitioners who want to change the world!

Stage One

For seven years we’ve worked hard and had some fun while building strong foundations for the society’s future work.  

We’ve established our legal structure, governance, banking, payment systems, insurance, auditors, by-laws, and policies in Toronto.  We also established a legal office, bank account, a payment processor and an store, all in the USA to better serve that market and the world in US currency with world-class fulfillment services.  And we have Ken Craddock’s extraordinary comprehensive bibliography of our field and an enviable collection of donated books, articles, dissertations, videos of practitioner interviews and presentation -- all available 24-7 to the world through our web site.  

Our accomplishments have earned broad credibility and built trust among our affiliates and corporate and university co-sponsors.  These good works include three world conferences, two in Toronto in English, and one in Buenos Aires innovating with simultaneous translation and using SKYPE video to offer virtual speakers.  Other accomplishments include a variety of special events, executive briefings, public professional development workshops, teaching clinics and video interviews with senior practitioners on four continents.  We've published a major book and built a second-generation web site that can now support our substantial library resources, events, journals, on-line professional development programs, database management, emailing, surveying and on-line store sales.

Stage Two?

What will stage two look like?  

What's desirable and possible given the environment and our vision, energy, capability and resources?

At this point, we need to refine and align our vision and goals, build a more robust and sustainable business model, and develop activities that engage, develop and support our affiliates at a higher level.

The board is scheduling a number of strategic discussions with consultation and input from our ABC (academic, business user, and consultant) affiliates leading up to our Organization Design Summit, October 22-25th .

Through our ABC synergies, we have amassed a mountain of resource materials.   However, some say that our resource library is overwhelming and that they don’t know where to start.

So for the time being we are beginning to organize our web site in three different ways:

  • By occupational role and the questions and opportunities inherent in each role
    • Academic
    • Manager,
    • Consultant
  • By activities and their related opportunities and questions.
    • Learning
    • Managing requisitely
    • Consulting  (GO Consulting Network)
    • Teaching and Mentoring
    • Writing and Publishing
    • Researching
    • Publicizing – messaging and postiioning
  • By practice issues
    • Implementing RO in small & medium size organizations
    • Implementing RO in global organizations
    • Assessment, coaching and talent pool management
    • Implications for Society
    • Practice in the Latin American Region in Spanish
    • Practice in the Australian, New Zealand, & South Africa Region

Over the next five or so months we will be organizing new special interest web pages, and inviting you to participate in on-line discussions, surveys, and teleconferences as the board continues its strategic discussions.

Soon, we will invite you to log into the society web site and to edit your registration / profile to indicate your interest in the above special interest groups.

Sunday, 14 September 2008 05:00

GO President's Blog -- Our new web site

We have been busy these last few months designing our new society web site.

It's a Beta version and we should have Stage I complete and debugged in a couple of weeks.

Take a look and let me know what you think by November 30th.

What to expect from Stage I?

All the old material from our current site has been moved over and some new material has been added.

New features include:

  • Search capability
  • Integrated data base - connecting affiliate accounts (required for all downloads) on-line store, conference and workshop registration, discussion forums, mailing list management system and survey tools.  Affiliates can update their own contact information, photos, and bios subject to editorial review.
  • Tools such as - blogs, photo gallery and backroom for board work and other governance activities,
  • Modular design allows rapid and efficient changes in design, menus and content
  • Built in HTML editors mean volunteers like you and me will be able to make changes ourselves in parts of the site we maintain.
  • Flash video - for better compatibility with computers world-wide
  • Capability to switch between English, Spanish & Portuguese pages.
  • Google analytics - to count page visits and all downloads

Any and all comments will be helpful on:

  • Aesthetics
  • Policy
  • Content
  • Features
  • Typographical errors
  • Ideas for improvements next time.

Your comments best by November 30th, but we will keep making improvements and welcome anytime.

Then we'll be working on Stage II through April 30th - much more functionality and special features including member only collaborative projects and on-line learning modules.

Best wishes,


Professional associations & universities that support and / or co-market society conferences

 New York City, USA

IBM International


The Argentine Human Resources Association

The European Organization Design Forum


Canadian Association of Management Consultants

Human Resource Professionals of Ontario

Human Resource Planning Society

An institute for advanced human resources professional development

An association of academics, business users and consultants headquartered at Aarhus University in Denmark

A USA based association

A Toronto-based association of advanced HR practitioners 


An Argentine Society for Quality Improvement


The Argentine Society for Training and Development

The Argentine Human Resources Association

Federation of Human Resource Associations in Latin America 

The Buenos Aires Technological Institute

An professional association for public service employees in Canada

Consulting firms that provide financial support


A management consulting firm in Toronto, Canada



Forrest and Company, Toronto, Canada


A global network of associate consultants headquartered in Toronto Canada



Toronto, Canada

















Toronto, Canada

Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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