What we do

Our work involves integrating all aspects of organisational work. Our strength is working in partnership with those in organisations to understand, explain and change (where necessary) these aspects.

We can do this by understanding how change in any one point impacts others.
For example, how a change in a system may drive different behaviours or be in conflict with the current structure or work of a role.

Similarly, although our work can be described in terms of consultancy and training, these two are always linked.

Hover over the corresponding subcategories to view information on that particular section.


We start from the needs of the client.

This could involve examining a specific problem or a general discussion of where the organisation is.

We have diagnostic and analytic methods which not only clarify issues but also set them in context. From this analysis we can jointly design a programme of work that will help to bring about improvements.

We do not have set interventions with predetermined time lines, although we do have tried and tested methods.

  • Consultancy

    Benefitting from its experience over many years, MAC has developed a range of methods and tools to deal with organisational change and development.

    Our consultants who have all come from leadership roles in organisations, some commercial, some public and some voluntary, are experts in the effect social process has in strategic leadership through systems, structure, policy development, leadership behaviour and the management of symbols.

    We offer a range of consultancy initiatives that will be tailored and programmed to your needs.

  • Organisational Analysis

    The Systems & Symbols Audit

    The "Systems & Symbols Audit" is essentially an organisational "health check". Macdonald Associates’ consultants will assess the organisation and provide information about where we think you may be able to better achieve your purpose.

    This is often an essential starting point to a process of organisational change identifying strengths and weaknesses and offering insight about the right priorities, order and pace needed for intitiatives to produce the desired change.

  • Strategic Advice

    Helping leaders think through big decisions

    Through experience both in leadership roles in large organisations and with large change programmes, MAC consultants have observed many behaviours and scenarios.

    This equips them with a range of expertise to offer honest, independent opinions to leaders at all levels of organisations to help them achieve their purpose.

  • Coaching

    Coaching & Feedback for Leaders

    Advice and review to organisations’ leaders from our highly skilled and experienced consultants.

    Many clients value a regular space with a knowledgable and capable outside consultant to reflect on their work and the issues it raises. Both concentrated bursts of coaching at periods of intense change and activity and regular but much less frequent meetings have been found valuable.

  • Building A Meritocracy

    The Right Person in the Right Role doing the Right Work

    How do you make sure you the right person in the right role doing the right work?

    Any organisation needs to understand the work that it has to do to deliver its product or service efficiently, safely and to the customer or client's requirements. This involves questions of structure, of understanding the nature of the problems posed by what you as an organisation do and what the systems, strategies and policies are that will ensure the work gets done.

    Key in this is understanding individual capability and how to match that to the work that needs to be done at different levels.

    SL provides a rigorous, well tested set of integrated theories and analytical frameworks which our highly capable consultants will help you apply to your organisation's issues and strategy.

    These include how to understand work at different levels, how to assess people's capability to do the work, how to structure an effective organisation, how to lead and manage performance so that people in a role can give of their best in working to the organisation's purpose, and career progression/succession planning/capacity building.

  • Systems Work

    The Design & Implementation of Authorised, Productive Systems

    Systems Leadership provides strong models of system design which enable high quality planning, including prediction of how the system will be received and its efficacy, design and implementation.

    We work with leaders and technical experts on a range of systems not just classic HR systems.

    Our experience is that by helping leaders work on the social process implications of the systems they are hoping to implement or update, they avoid the frustration of people abusing, subverting or ignoring systems that have major technical or commercial advantages.

  • Industrial Relations

    Industrial Relations Negotiation Process

    Both large and small organisations regularly go through negotiation processes. Using Systems Leadership in these situations, you can predict and achieve the organisation’s desired outcome.

    In our experience the rigorous use of SL has avoided costly strikes and lock outs. It has also enabled negotiating parties to be clearer about the consequences both of their objectives and their behaviour in negotiating.

  • People Due Diligence

    Understanding the capability and culture of the workforce at a time of a merger or acquisition or when simply joining two departments or units together.

    Before undertaking an acquisition it is common to assess the value of the asset. This normally only takes into account the physical resources and ignores the people who are part of the new organisation at most levels.

    We will help you assess the nature and quality of the workforce and identify any points of concern.

  • Crossing Cultures

    Working in Cross-Cultural organisations and contexts

    A huge issue for many organisations nowadays is the cross-cultural aspect of their context - mining on indigenous land, bringing western management approaches to former communist countries, or handling the market approach in public service.

    MAC has worked with many organisations to help them overcome and understand how to work with different cultures amongst their organisation’s stakeholders.

  • Change

    The Process of Organisational Change/Transformation

    Macdonald Associates Consultancy have been involved in several large change programmes in very large, multi-national companies and much smaller, local organisations.

    This process usually involves a variety of the consultancy and training services mentioned in this website. The process relies on a close relationship between the consultant and the organisation’s leaders.

    Depending on the circumstances, it may take several years to complete.

  • Strategy

    Executive Team Strategic Planning

    From the multi-national corporation to the small, local and voluntary organisation, MAC has a history of working effectively with leadership teams to develop practical strategies and policies to deliver their purpose and vision.


Our training is always set in the context of understanding the issues being addressed by the organisation. We do not just come in and run pre-set programmes. Also, all of our training must be authorised by the line management of the organisation with a clear purpose and agreed set of outcomes.

We do have methods and programmes but they are always modified to make them relevant to the particular organisation. We usually run training programmes in partnership with internal presenters (who we can train).

Our training is always connected to the work of participants and set in the context of their organisation’s purpose.

  • Training

    Building the Capacity to Deliver the Promise, MAC runs a wide range of courses tailored to the client’s needs.

    These may be used as part of larger transformation process or in a stand-alone capacity. They take a variety of formats and deal with a wide range of content.

    All our courses are based on experiential learning and participants find them challenging, safe, fun and important learning experiences. A general principle is that courses are co-presented by a MAC consultant and an internal manager to ensure both rigorous use of the theory and relevant application to the business and organisational context.

  • Social Process Skills for Leaders

    I know what I'm supposed to do as a leader but how do I do it?

    A detailed look at the different interactions between a leader and their team – practical experience of appropriate styles and approaches with feedback on coaching, performance management, giving presentations, running meetings, etc.

    The course has some theory input but is mostly taken up with working on case studies and practising the skills in groups with constructive reflection and feedback. Particpants are then coached in the workplace with a follow up session to reinforce and extend the learning.

  • Potential Assessment

    Understanding and assessing an individual's capability now and for the future. Many leaders in organisations find it very difficult to assess what a person can do or what they might be capable of in the future.

    Yet to build sustainable organisations we need to be able to recruit and promote the right people and develop them appropriately. Often managers will have a sense of what a person can do now and should be able to do in the future but has difficulty articulating and justifying that judgment publicly.

    MAC has a number of ways of helping people learn how to assess people in order to match an individual’s capability to organisational needs through systems such as internal and external recruitment, career development, talent management and succession planning.

  • Working Together

    Learning how teams work, how I work and how organisations work.

    The best known MAC course – an integrated experience of our organisational theory including team working, authorities and accountabilities, the nature of work, the structure of organisations, values and culture, systems, symbols and behaviour, and the tools of leadership.

    Participants have an intense experience of working as a team and reflecting on how their own and others' behaviour helps or hinders getting the work done through a series of activities, case studies and group exercises.

    Originally a five day course, it has been done in a variety of formats over the years to suit different contexts. It works best over three or more days and benefits from being residential.

  • Train the Trainer

    Developing internal capacity to run trainingDeveloping internal staff to run training courses, concentrating on safety, appropriate, respectful and courageous feedback and applying theory to business and organisational issues is the aim of a Train the Trainer.

    MAC courses depend on a partnership between MAC presenters and internal leaders as presenters. This gives the training a much greater relevance and credibility in participants' eyes. It also gives the leaders an opportunity to learn more about the theory in practice and to demonstrate how important consistent leadership behaviour and understanding is to the organisation.

    The rigour of the Train the Trainer process provides helpful development not just for use on courses but in their daily work.

  • Structure

    Structure & Role Design/Description. How to ensure that the right person is in the right role doing the right work to achieve the organisation’s purpose.

    This course looks at the detail of the work of a role and how the work - people, programming and technical - builds into a particular role in a particular slot in the organisation.

    Care is taken to look at role relationships, teams, cross functional relationships, resources and authorities. The interaction with systems such as performance management, cascading planning, the work of the manager once removed and level specific accountability, for e.g. safety, are all taken into account.

  • Work of the Role

    How can I understand the work of my role and roles like it so I understand what my distinct contribution is and how that is assessed?

    Not understanding what the characteristic work of a role at a particular level in an organisation contributes to achieving the overall purpose, can lead to immense frustration, ill targeted effort and poor delivery.

    I may be working very hard but I may be working on something that, in the end, adds no value at all and may be interfering with the work of those who report to me, those to whom I report or my peers.

    Through exercises, case studies and reflection on participants’ experience in their organisational context and using SL theory, Understanding the Work of the Role looks in detail at particular roles in your organisation to ensure people in those roles are clear about what they are supposed to be doing and how that can add value to the organisation.

  • Systems Design

    Learning how to design and implement effective systems.

    Applying our organisational theory to the crucial area of the design and implementation of systems. The learning is done through working on real systems participants know well with theory input, support and feedback.

    Many of these sessions, whose clear purpose is to learn about systems design, have had the additional benefit of identifying and analysing unhelpful systems and offering workable solutions to their operation and processes.

  • Safety Workshop

    To define the work leaders need to do to create the desired safety culture.

    • Are you aware of the compelling need to change your safety culture?
    • Are you clear on where you want to go?
    • Where does your organisation sit on the range from a dependent to an independent to an interdependent culture?
    • Are you committed to the required change?
    • Do you want to work with your team to achieve the goal?
    • Are you prepared to modify your own behaviour?

    The Safety Workshop looks at the leadership work in developing the zero injuries culture that all organisations should be creating nowadays.

    By the end of the workshop you will:

    • have identified what’s working well
    • have better identified the issues in the current safety culture
    • have a shared understanding of the culture we want to create
    • understand the work we need to do to create this culture
    • and be committed to doing this work.

    This is based on the understanding that changing a culture requires three conditions to be met:

    • dissatisfaction with the current culture (Dissonance)
    • a desirable alternative (Vision/Goal)
    • and a realistic pathway for achieving that alternative (Strategy/Plan/Tools).