Organisational Design & Governance Labs – Ministry for the Environment

Ministry for the Environment

Read how the Ministry For the Environment (MFE) took a new collaborative approach to organisational redesign to ensure staff and leadership buy-in.


How can MFE involve its people in the process of adapting its organisational design and ways of working to support the achievement of their new strategy and build their leadership and organisation culture?


A design lab was set up internally to take any interested staff through a creative design process that allowed them to come up with a range of prototypes for organisational design models.

Observations and lessons learnt

Collaboration within my organisation


In the past, some people have been suspicious of organisational design. They’ve not been sure about how to get involved, felt that maybe it’s not for them, or felt that something has been completed and announced suddenly. This process was designed intentionally to be collaborative in order to achieve greater buy-in and input from staff.


There are a lot of passionate and talented people at MFE. They have a lot of ideas, and a good process can empower them to create an organisation for the future, and an organisation where they want to work.



Previously, recommendations might only have been shared with leaders once they were perfectly formed. Instead, this project was framed as being like "working with wet paint." This meant sharing the unedited insights, which leaders then engaged with, rather than presenting them with tidy solutions. It took a bit longer, but it achieved better engagement as a result.

Getting Senior Leaders to engage when the content is "raw" will create buy-in and ownership.

Internal communication


Growing a different culture requires a different approach, one that more closely involves staff. When thinking about organisational design, there's a tendency to think about org charts. This process sought to broaden the definition of organisational design. It wasn’t a secret either; anyone could drop in. The internal team already knew the specific pain points. They sought to learn the root cause, drilling down into the why, and enabled by the broad problem discovery process. This led to recommendations that focused on simplifying and strengthening their organisational governance framework and capability, rather than structural change.

Skills to innovate


This process meant the team were in the divergent space for longer. A focus of the work was really understanding the problem and not letting people jump straight (and quickly) to the solution. This can feel uncomfortable when the expected result is uncertain. However, the team was encouraged to trust the process. Ambiguity was needed to deliver great outcomes.

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