Having been involved in quite a few budget and headcount processes over the years,
one thing that continues to surprise me is how often folks make major headcount requests
without having done any organzational design of those those requested heads will compose into
The good news is that the high-level sort of organizational design required for headcount planning
is abstract, low granularity, and it’ll likely only take you a couple hours to do a first pass.
Add a few more hours to gather feedback, and you’ll have a reasonably good organizational design.
Fork the org growth template
B4 to reflect your organization’s current headcount
Growth/Quarter (Row 5) to reflect a reasonable quarterly growth number.
This is going to be highly company specific. Either your headcount plan should provide
some rough guidance or you can look at historical growth over the past year as a baseline
assumption for next year’s growth. This only needs to be directionally accurate,
and it’s better to be conservative than unrealistic
Tweak the values in
Configuration to match with your organization’s beliefs, and to account
for whatever roles your org does or does not have (technical program managers, product managers, etc).
I’ve previously written up my rationale for a 1:8 ratio of managers to engineers,
but the exact numbers here will depend on your organization.
Again, these numbers just need to be directionally accurate, not perfect
You now know approximately how many teams and groups (e.g. teams of teams) you’ll have over
the next year, and even the next several years if you extend the forecast
Next, fork the org design template
Started by linking your Org Growth projections into the
This will give readers context of your organization’s planned growth over the year
without opening the sheet (you should absolutely link the sheet, but most readers
will probably never open it)
Plan, start designing your organizational structure to match the size at the end of
this year (or roughly twelve months out if you’re not doing this around January).
The number of
Directors will determine how many groups (e.g. teams of teams) you’ll need,
and the number of
Managers will determine the number of teams to distribute across those groups.
You should explicitly name each of those groups (e.g. Dev Productivity) and also connect each group to
a subset of your organiztion’s goals or roadmap. You should further name the teams within each group
to provide some flavor for how the group might be composed.
It’s fine for team names can be a bit fuzzy as the relevant Directors will tweak the pieces a bit
as they come into play, but the groups should be fairly firm
Plan with a short proposal for how you’ll move from current state (e.g. 0 Directors)
to future state (e.g. 3 Directors)
Peer Comparisons to highlight structures at comparably sized organizations with similar scope
Summary section focusing on group structure roughly a year out
Read over your Org Design document. If following the model has introduced any particularly
awkward elements, then go ahead and rewrite them with something that you find more natural
Now you’re done!