Designing Authentic Connections . . .

Why this for our 2021 Theme?


2020 challenged us all to excel in different ways of working. Organization designers, already at the forefront in exploring and implementing ways of working and operating model innovations, were optimally positioned for the acceleration of change in the last year.  Remote work, future of work, decentralization, global organizations, and recent innovations such as outdoor offices, ghost kitchens, and virtual socials have long been organization design topics. ​

The distinct difference is a new scope and scale regarding distance.  More and more, we are working with people who we do not see or speak to every day, or perhaps, have never met face-to-face, all while trying to deliver value to stakeholders.  We will be meeting people and building our personal networks in an entirely different context and environment in the future.

Join us at our virtual conference this June where we will be exploring:​

  • Beyond corridors:  how will we design organizations and work-life to foster authentic relationships, collaboration, and connection in a largely, if not entirely, virtual workplace?​
  • Who do we need to be:  what is the future of an Organization Designer in our roles as practitioners and facilitators?


We have sessions planned between
8 AM (PDT) and 12:30 PM (PDT)
on June 8 – 10 and June 15 – 17

Presenting organizations . . .

Conference Structure and Sessions

We have some great sessions and speakers lined up for you. This year we have organized the sessions into four categories. Swipe through the sessions below and click to read the full session outline.

Organization Design in Action

Emerging Operating Models

Role of the Designer

Methods and Practice

Organization Design in Action Sessions

Re-imagining the Team Health Check: Explore How Digital Team Development Fosters Connection and Collaboration in a Virtual World

Sarah Heller, Dolby

Designing healthy, thriving teams to deliver value in today’s dynamic work environment is no easy feat. Join us for an experiential session on team effectiveness in a post-COVID era and participate in a team health demo. You will leave with a framework to stimulate discussion about a group’s performance and ideas on how it might be adapted to support your engagements.

Beyond Cat Filters – How AI is Changing Organizations and Their Design

Siddha Ganju, NASA & Troy Lowry, LSAC

Learn how AI has already changed organizations, where it is going and how Organizational Designers can work with these changes to help their clients thrive in a new age.

High Engagement Organization Design Goes Virtual – How the U.S. Census Bureau Pivoted to Virtual Engagement During the Global Pandemic

Dick and Emily Axelrod, Louis Saindon, Katrina Syvertsen, Marian Moriarty, Becca Lehner

Learn how the U.S. Bureau pivoted from an in-person organization change effort to a virtual process that involved thousands of employees.   Explore with us in this interactive session the choices and dilemmas that occurred during this multi-year process.

Co-creating the EDFR Change Framework, with frog Design

Dalen Copeland & Linda Quarles

When EDF Renewables was seeking a consultant to help with improving their capability of change management for digital transformation, they were introduced to frog Design. As an innovation strategy consultancy, frog did not offer traditional change management capabilities. Instead, through the human-centered design process and ‘change engagement,’ frog and EDFR together co-created a change framework right for EDFR.

Emerging Operating Models Sessions

Emerging Design Landscapes: Decolonializing OD

Dr. Richard Thayer, Sally Breyley Parker, & William Zybach

The Gestalt “paradoxical theory of change” is the port of departure for a journey we want to take participants on to explore new landscapes, setting sail like the Europeans in the 1500’s. However, unlike the conquistadors this workshop provides a framework that values indigenous cultures and their lands and allows us to enter as collaborators. This voyage includes a fresh and appetizing case study; a charismatic “monarch” dies leaving a fractured and suffering organization in desperate need of a new vessel designed for the changing seas.


Prototyping and Experimentation in Organization Design

Frithjoth Wegener

How could design thinking, UX design and other forms of design inspire organization design? Specifically, this session highlights the role of experiments and prototypes in other forms of design and how organization design might use prototyping and experiments.


Finding the Pathway Through Fear to Empowerment

Michael McGovern

As organizations seek to fully engage and empower their workforce, the challenge leaders face is one of moving through the fear of “losing control”. This program will present a risk management approach that can be used to mitigate the fears encountered on the path to employee empowerment.


Liberating More Authentic Connection

Keith McCandless & Liza Sitton

Bring more of your deeper-funner-truer-complex self to the virtual world… and your design work.  We will tap Gestalt, Mad Tea, and superpowered Wicked Questions, playfully drawing out more complexity in you and others simultaneously.  We will explore together a connection model that liberates authenticity.   


Role of the Designer Sessions

Re-Design the Bottom Line: Will It Be Win-Lose or Synergy?

Bruce Mabee

“Tell me that you want the kind of things that money just can’t buy.”

Have the Pandemic and Black Lives Matter truly shifted our priorities, not just our offices? If so, the rich getting richer and Win-Lose marketing may not be the ultimate business goals. The goal of politics may not be to win elections at all costs.

So, can you and I now create a better bottom line?

Tactical Empathy: Diversity 3.0

Rossina Gil

Go from “speaking Geek to Greek” by learning how to connect your logos to your pathos in this fast-paced, highly interactive how-to session on building Tactical Empathy in order to allow the other person to have your way!

Designing Soulful Organizations

Jardena London

Have you ever had a soul-crushing moment at work?  Most people have had at least one, which makes me wonder “Are we designing soul-crushing organizations?”  This session introduces ways to build soulfulness into an organization’s design.

Methods and Practice Sessions

Workplace of the Future: Connections Through Space and Time

Brad Keller

While the office of the future is still forming, we can be certain that the number of people working remotely at least part of the time will double – or more –  from 2019 levels. In many cases, organizations have passed the point of return as workers have relocated entirely and investments in technology and real estate have been revisited and revised. Join us for a session in which the workspace strategy leader for Humana, a US Fortune 100 healthcare services provider, discusses perspective, e.g. what is work space in the future as people ‘go to work’ at different times and in different places. What are the roles of leaders, the organization supporting enabling work and capabilities, the new ‘hallways’ and ‘break rooms’ and how we can innovate to use space and time differently to enhance connections. 

Authentically Messy: Designing for Emotional Agility

Robin Anselmi & Kell Delaney

Learn about the natural human defenses that get in the way of authentic connection, and how designing our conversations and our organizations for greater emotional agility not only supports social health but drives value and sustainable results.

The Future of Work is Remote, Yet More Creative - How to Engage People and Develop a Culture of Collective Creativity

Priszcilla Várnagy  

Leaders and teams who are navigating the future of work today are grappling with one increasingly important question: How can individuals and organisations build creativity and innovation skills while connecting remotely? In this interactive session, we will not only analyse how the most innovative leaders of the 21st-century have built important skills for their team, but we will invite participants for a live creative problem solving session on how to equip the future workforce with an abundant mindset.

Power of Imagination in Designing Authentic Connections

Ellora Rath & Adi Raheja

Imagination is like the fertile ground which is hardly watered yet bears the seeds when accidentally nurtured for the fruits of connection

Join us to explore how imagination can be a bridge to authentic connection through the medium of Arts. How can organization design transition from a standardized  to a ‘playful and spontaneous’ approach inducing flexibility and a greater sense of inclusion?

All of these plus structured networking opportunities with your community!

Our Annual Conference is at the center of our Organization Design Community

The Organization Design Forum is a global professional association linking practitioners, organizational leaders, academics, and students in ongoing learning about the field of organization design.

As a cornerstone event for the ODF community, the annual conference offers exploration and learning around the latest developments, theories, and practices of organization design.  Focused on expanding the toolkits of practitioners, as well leaders, academics, and students, the Conference provides opportunities for knowledge sharing in a highly participative format for building connections and networks within the organization design community.

“ODF conferences present information relative to the practice of organization design and organization development from the basics, including theory, to cutting edge ideas and practices. It’s an excellent return on investment for practitioners and academics.”

“This was, unquestionably, the finest professional conference of its kind I have ever attended.”

“This was my first conference and it was a really great experience. Valuable learning and networking opportunities, and I felt very welcome. It truly had a feeling of a community of experts and practitioners. A 10+! Thank you.”

Check our Full-Agenda

We have sessions planned between 8 AM (PDT) and 12:30 PM (PDT) on June 8 – 10 and June 15 – 17

*Please note that our agenda is still evolving and that session times and details may change.

Add a ‘Save-the-Date’ to Your Calendar

Individual Session calendar blocks available post-registration.

Using an AI-powered digital engagement platform to enhance our leaning and connection

To optimize engagement and learning we will be partnering with HowSpace, a social event platform and AI-powered digital facilitation tool that thrives on high levels of involvement and collaboration.  We aspire to provide our attendees with both asynchronous and synchronous knowledge-sharing opportunities in a fun and memorable way. 

Click or tap to learn more!

Appreciation for our Community Sponsors

Accenture’s Talent & Organization (T&O) / Human Potential practice helps shape the organization and workforce agenda for our clients. As a part of our global portfolio, we have a robust operating model and org design offering that has been super charged with the inclusion of Kates Kesler. Together, we help our clients align their strategy and operating model to stay competitive and grow beyond traditional core business.


Visit our T&O/Human Potential practice, our Operating Model offering and our new org design book Network, Scaled and Agile.