The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Redesigning a Global Organization to Deal with Increasing Complexity:

The Issue:

In 1992, George Weber was appointed as Secretary-General / CEO of The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Federation is a global body that is one of the largest international humanitarian organizations in the world. The organization was faced with increasing complexities, increasing demand, higher standards of accountability, and a budgetary requirement to meet these needs with the same or only slightly higher resources. Capelle Associates was engaged to support a redesign.

The Intervention:

Following a review of operating systems, a review of the organization design and a task force was put in place to work on International Federation Secretariat priorities and working methods. The organization design assessment included a literature review, review of internal documents, an interview of all managers in Geneva and worldwide to collect time span information and other information on their roles and those of their direct reports, and task analysis in terms of how people did their work.

Results:

The Secretariat was reorganized as a stratum 6 organization (it had been a stratum 5 organization with compression), introducing four stratum five subordinate roles to deal with the complexity the organization was facing. The reorganization created two core units of the Secretariat: Disaster Response and Operation Coordination, and National Society Cooperation and Development. A process was put in place to clarify cross-functional accountabilities and authorities. A new business planning and review system was also developed and introduced. This was linked to the strategic plan and cascaded down through the organization so that each plan was a subset of that person's manager’s plan. This clarified the key accountabilities of each person. Three parallel processes were used to implement the change(new organization design, priorities and working processes, improvements to operating systems). With close coordination between the project teams, and between the internal teams and the consultants, the changes were successfully implemented over a two-year period. The change process was without question a success, as reinforced by a second review by Capelle Associates after two years which reaffirmed that significant progress had been made.

Project Information:

Industrial sector Types of organization Governance RO Stratum of the organization Number of Employees Labour relations Region Country
Healthcare - medical devices, Non-profits - charities, associations, service providers etc
Charity
Not-for-Profit
6
Not-unionized
Global, Europe
Switzerland
Types of interventions Specific functions targeted if any Strata in which RO interventions were used Approximate Years of project interventions
CEO & general management, Human Resources
6, 5, 4, 3
1992

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Project principals

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President & CEO at WebX Consulting Group
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Calian Group
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Management Consultant
Effective Managers

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