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Your operating model; the elephant in the room?

An organisation’s operating model should the delivery mechanism for who it is and what it is trying to achieve. In reality, it is often caught somewhere between the ghosts of an organisation’s past, present and future; limiting results and inhibiting your people’s efforts to deliver on your strategy

As we mentioned in the previous post in this series, as 2021 comes into view on the horizon, organisations are now starting to assess where they are and what changes are required to learn from the years’ experience and set them up for growth and relative stability.

There is a quote that goes along the lines of “action with purpose is the realisation of a dream; whereas all action with no purpose is a nightmare come true”. It points at the need to combine a clear purpose with execution for success. However, it also highlights an assumption that many organisations make when it comes to success, or failure: that it all boils down to choosing the right strategy and generating action to deliver on it. In our experience there is a third and critical component missing: whether an organisation’s operating model is adequate for the task at hand.

We define an Operating Model as where an organisation’s people, processes, management practices, technology, organisational structures come together to deliver an outcome, so in effect, the how. Here are some considerations when assessing whether your operating model is in need of a rethink.

One dream or Function First?

A common challenge we observe is where functional targets are negatively impacting the organisation’s performance as whole. Picture an all too familiar scenario wherein Sales are told to spend more on bringing in new customers, while at the same time Customer Services are told to cut back on the same teams who are supposed to onboard and service these new customers. If we apply the same approach across the organisation, one can see how teams become inward looking, functions focus on solving functional problems, and siloes emerge.

What to look for: An absence of collaboration and decision making that can seem slow and challenging.

What to consider: How to define and measure shared success and outcomes between functions.

Are your people focussed on doing the work or improving how the work gets done?

The reality is that it must be both. Organisations must ensure that their people and teams have a relentless focus on continuous improvement and utilising technology and low-code solutions to perform non value-add activities. Why? Because you need their brain power and expertise to concentrate on solving the important problems that will set you up for long-term success. This requires ongoing focus and practice, and part of an organisation’s DNA. In our experience, organisations that do this well will continue to evolve at a pace quicker than the competition. The alternative is a company which must spend big every 5 years on largescale transformation programmes; which would you prefer?

What to look for: Where are you investing in improving your people, processes, practices and technology, and just as importantly, where are you not.

What to consider: Are we asking the right questions of our people and our people leaders?

There is clarity of purpose but is there clarity of promise?

Translating strategy into action goes beyond roles and responsibilities, it means being clear on what people are on the hook for; what their promise is to their people and customers, and how well articulated the collective promises are along the value chain. Getting this right will foster better collaboration, collective problem solving and enable more rapid decision making. Moreover, if everyone is clear on the outcomes that are expected of them, at individual and team level, it promotes a greater sense of ownership, responsibility and problem solving, important ingredients for long-term success.

What to look for: A lack of clarity when trying to articulate what success looks like, or who is responsible for delivering it.  

What to consider: Whether “we are all responsible” is helping or hindering your organisational agility.

Our offer

At Sia Partners we have a consistent track record of converting strategy into action, designing and implementing Transformational Operating models, and Full Business Reviews. We appreciate that engaging a management consultancy to support is often a big deal and understand the importance of choosing the right one. Get in touch to find out more on how we can help you design an operating model that matches your ambitions.