Mastering the Cube

Mastering the Cube helps business leaders and change practitioners develop a shared perspective on organization design and achieve positive business results.

Whether the task involves restructuring, consolidations, mergers and acquisitions, or new market growth, the imperative of organizational change need not be daunting or overwhelming. Indeed, this resource provides the guidance modern leaders need to become skilled in the important, real work of strategic organization alignment.

Aligning a Multifaceted Organization

Organizations are Rubik’s Cubes. A leader cannot twist one side of the cube without affecting the others. By identifying 8 Stumbling Blocks and replacing them with 8 key Building Blocks, Mastering the Cube lays out a comprehensive and definitive approach to engaging key leaders in orchestrating complex change and building an organization that works.


Following the metaphor of an organization as a Rubik’s Cube, we have identified 8 common, but misguided moves of organizational change.  These are Stumbling Blocks. But for each of these we offer an alternate move, or Building Block. These are solid principles or methods for leading organization alignment.


8 Stumbling Blocks

  1. Boxology – Concentrating mostly on redrawing the boxes on the organization chart
  2. Off-the-Shelf Organizations – Selecting a new organization structure from a limited set of templates
  3. The Secret Society – Limiting the work of organization design to just a few high-level leaders
  4. Starting with Names – Aligning an organization to top talent
  5. “Real” Work – Hastening through alignment to get on with the real work of leadership
  6. Grow or Cut – Believing that organizations cannot increase revenues and reduce expenses at the same time
  7. The Simplicity Complex – Offering simplicity to customers without adapting the enterprise accordingly
  8. One and Done – Striving for a perfect organization, once and for all

8 Building Blocks

  1. Align All Systems – Vetting all facets of the enterprise for their alignment to strategy
  2. Tailor to Strategy – Creating a unique, customized organization structure
  3. Co-create – Involving key leaders and experts throughout the organization
  4. Staffing Follows Structure – Aligning talent to strategy
  5. Become an Alignment Leader – Recognizing that alignment is among the most crucial work done by leaders
  6. Resource and Reduce – Using alignment as a tool to accomplish both growth and savings goals
  7. Absorb Complexity – Offering simplicity to customers while managing complexity in the enterprise
  8. Design Fluidly – Maintaining alignment in a smooth and ceaseless flow

Reviews from Industry Leaders

This is a great step-by-step how-to manual on defining and changing the design of your company. If you’re facing such challenges and have only time to read one thing, read this. It is omniscient, efficient and sufficient.

Clayton Christensen – Professor, Harvard Business School

A must read for C-Suite execs interested in cutting the fat and preserving the muscle. Mastering the Cube: Overcoming Stumbling Blocks and Building an Organization that Works is a blueprint for smart, engaging cost reduction and efficiency no matter the circumstances.

Joe Nothwang – President, Rentals and Leasing, the Americas and Asia, Hertz Corporation

The 8 stumbling blocks are an excellent reminder of the all-too-often misguided approach and beliefs at play within businesses tackling organization transformation and change.  Mastering the Cube offers thoughtful and practical wisdom and techniques for any leader who seeks to ensure that the organization design efforts they undertake are aligned with strategy and result in sustainable business impact.

Angela S. Lalor – Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Danaher Corporation

This book doesn’t sugar coat the tough choices with which organization leaders are confronted For those who have the courage to move forward, Mastering the Cube is a practical and valuable guide to aligning organization “choices” to strategy.  I found the guidance equally applicable to all types of organizations:  for-profit, government, and non-profit.

Ann R. Henry – Vice President, Global Operations, Cisco Capital

Mastering the Cube is a guide organization architects can use to maneuver through the critical steps to produce an organization that works.  Nicely done.

Larry Costello – Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer, Tyco International

I not only endorse the concept and principles in this book, I’ve implemented them in my business.  As a CEO I have learned that an organization perfectly delivers what it is designed to deliver.  No doubt the best practices shared in this book have been a key driver to our company’s success.

Alan Bird – President & Chief Executive Officer, SCI Marketview

Mastering the Cube represents a no nonsense and pragmatic approach to the challenges facing so many of our organizations. Filled with compelling examples, this myth buster will help leaders and organization practitioners alike in building a more aligned organization. Deshler, Smith, and Von Feldt provide us with some highly applicable building blocks and the core ingredients to chart a new path of change in these dynamic times.

Andrew J Chandler – Senior Director, Organization Effectiveness, Gap Inc.