Corporate collaboration

Designing Adaptive and Creative Organizations

If your company is interested in exploring how to move from traditional managerial structures toward organization designs that better support agility and self-management, then these student projects may be of interest to you. In the course project, students will work with companies to evaluate current status and give recommendations for changes in the organization design of the company or its sub-entity, based on the direction and priorities (breadth vs. depth) that the companies seek to explore.
Students of Aalto University / Photo by Unto Rautio

Project Description

In these free-of-charge projects, students will work with companies that seek to understand how well designed their organization is to support the implementation of a digital strategy, to foster the adoption of a digital solution (centralized customer data and analytics capability, communication platform, etc.), or to address a challenge digitalization causes to the company, its operations, or its employees. 

Based on the identified organization design need of the company, the students will evaluate the current status and give recommendations for action. Suitable projects can vary from analysis around a focused context in which digitalization, as it is approached in your company’s situation, interacts with the company’s organization design. Examples of possible project topics may include among others:

  • Searching for organization design improvements to better utilize a specific digital asset within a certain unit (“Investigating opportunities to arrange sales functions more adaptively around customer data capabilities”).
  • Finding ways to empower individual or team self-management in a unit utilizing data and communication platforms.
  • Outlining a high-level organization design scenario for the company comparing strategic priorities and digitization benchmarks in the relevant field.

Examples of possible project topics

  1. Planning a specific development initiative to increase agility and self-management (e.g. establishing conditions for self-managing teams in customer service unit).
  2. Scoping a pilot program for a radical transformation to a more self-managing organization design in a business unit/functional unit/other sub-entity.
  3. Outlining a high-level plan for a transformation of the whole company to a more self-managing organization design.
  4. Designing a frame for a self-managing organization from ground up for a new venture/unit.

What can the company expect from taking part in this project?

  • An external perspective on what more adaptive and empowering organization designs would require in the company’s situation and a way to test the robustness of the current thinking (the specific deliverables will be agreed separately with the student team and the course staff).
  • Work with and get the latest academic knowledge in the field of organizational design from a group of 4-5 highly talented students (Industrial Engineering and Management master’s students close to graduation). The student groups are supported by the course staff.

What is required from the company?

  • Curiosity toward making your company more adaptive; preferably an initial idea for scope and target of such a project.
  • Enabling an access for the student group to conduct interviews with some of your managers and employees, as well as to collect appropriate secondary data in February/March 2020. If requested, students and course staff can sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding the use of the data collected.
  • A regular access for the team to a mentor/point-of-contact person in the company.

What do the students receive?

  • An opportunity to evaluate questions of and apply academic knowledge in organization design in a real-world context (the projects are delivered without monetary compensation).


  • If you are interested in such a project and would like to know more, please email Professor Marina Biniari ([email protected]) or Lauri Pietinalho ([email protected]) by December 18th, 2019
  • The project will commence with a joint workshop where the companies meet with the student teams to finalize the project outline (with the help of course staff) on February 13th, 2020. 
  • Expected work load for each student is 55 to 60 hrs; the final project reports/presentations will be submitted/presented by the end of April 2020.

Course details

  • Contact: Co-teacher and course assistant Lauri Pietinalho, [email protected]
  • Responsible teacher: Assistant Professor Marina Biniari
  • Project duration: 2,5 months (February - April), 55 - 60 h
  • Number of students per project: 4-5 
  • Project fee for a company: -
  • Application period for companies: By December 18th, 2019.
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