As those who know me well know, my secret workplace passion is about helping organisations design operating models that drive efficiency, delight customers and empower people.

There are many dimensions to consider when designing a target operating model. One crucial ingredient is a positive ‘cultural’ intent i.e.  a situation where everyone involved wants the organisation to succeed, seeing change positively as a vital part of ensuring organisational success.

Where such positive cultural intent is in place, I’ve usually found that establishing the right facets of good operating model design is a joyful process. Not entirely without its challenges of course, but ultimately a process that leads to successful target operating model design.

Yet I am reminded of a specific organisation I worked with, where frustration came from, what on the surface, seemed an unlikely scenario.  I was working with a number of really great teams full of bright and collegiate people. All displayed a positive cultural intent – and yet all seemingly pulled in different and conflicting directions.

Many hours were wasted with teams falling over each en-route to potentially different goals.

When asked – they would all suggest they were enthusiastically guided by the same north star and vision.

It was an engagement, from which I learnt a huge amount about the complexities of building a target operating model. I spoke with the CEO who just could not understand why things were failing. After all, the business had a crystal clear vision that was enthusiastically embraced.

Our discussion covered much ground and was disarmingly candid.

Could blame be laid at the feet of middle management, often the first port of call when seeking to understand op model failure? Perhaps they had become stale and lazy? But my conversations and observations around the business suggested otherwise.

Almost without exception the people I met were hard working and dedicated to the overall cause. So what had gone wrong?

To solve this challenge required us to go beyond any perceived single ‘silver bullet’.

In this instance, we got to the heart of the problem by looking hard at the detail of the existing operating model, thinking beyond simple alignment around the vision and purpose, or just having the ‘right’ culture.

Instead of designing the operating model ‘top down’, we spent time at team level, establishing how (and why) teams interfaced as they did. As a result we established positive and efficient ways of working that individual teams could embrace as their own. Importantly, we incorporated the insights and realities of their day to day operation. Realities that a senior team, tasked with creating a new operating model, could never fully appreciate.

To help you on your path to designing a better operating model, PiC has pooled all of its experience to create a handy diagnostic. It is entirely free to use and can be found on the Toolbox page of this website.

It asks a series of questions to help you design an operating model with the power to make the teams in your organisation perform more efficiently. It helps avoid the common pitfall of believing there is a TOM ‘silver bullet’, instead walking you through the many facets that need to be in place for the organisation to operate most effectively.

Please take a look and feedback any views on other elements your experience suggests should come in to play.