High-impact operating model design in action

Part 3: Putting behaviors at the forefront

Posted by
Tiffany McDowell
,  Uzair Qadeer, and Julia Rudansky on October 18, 2017.

By understanding how behaviors are both a crucial input and output of operating model design, organizations can effectively navigate the ever-changing market waters and create tomorrow’s customer-centric organization. In this series, we’ve discussed how a behavior-focused operating model can help reduce risk in business transformations, and ways operating model design influences behaviors (and vice versa). But, of course, knowing that behaviors are a crucial input and output of operating model design is only half the battle. How organizations put this thinking into practice is also essential to ensure the operating model does its intended job and drives the organization. In our final post, we look at this “how-to.”

Operating model design is a starting point for a transformation or change, when leaders should address tough issues and discuss structural characteristics that support and provide the bones for the culture. The decision to design a new operating model is a strategic decision based on the evaluation and deep understanding of desired behavioral outcomes based on alignment with mission, vision, core values, market changes, and current organizational inefficiencies.

As organizations analyze the current-state organizational behaviors and think about the desired future state, there are a few key questions to consider:

Which operating model setup is a reflection of our organization’s vision and mission?

What behaviors must we mobilize in order to successfully implement our strategy?

What affiliation to profession, purpose, and mission drives and will continue to drive our people?

What type of culture do we want our operating model to promote across our organization?

Here’s an example of how one company approached the effort.

Case in Point
While cutting-edge analytics functions are commonplace in the consumer packaged goods industry, they are relatively nascent in pharmaceuticals. A global life sciences organization embarked on a mission of rolling out a strong analytics function by combining some existing teams with a slew of new, innovative ones. This unique situation needed a unique approach, so with a new team leader leading the charge, the company set out to identify the required end behaviors so it could then design an operating model capable of driving them.

Mobilizing for action
Operating model transformation is not about reorganizing; it is about connecting strategy to behavior. People must be empowered to act, communicate, and deliver their jobs in new ways to execute effectively on the organization’s strategic plan. The model should enable people to follow the right steps, just like a pathway designed to run through a park intuitively enables passers-by to walk through the park while staying on the right track. Leaders should take a holistic approach to operating model design, from strategy to behavior, considering not only the high-level structure, but also how tasks will be executed and how people will do their jobs.

Here are some steps to consider when making organizational behavior a pivotal piece of your operating model design:

Pause at the top before going too far downstream. Organization transformation is not just solving for structure and processes. Leaders should start upstream and truly understand the behavioral implications of operating model selection. Leverage tools and analytical capabilities to guide these organizational elements deliberately instead of just letting them happen.

Recognize that the operating model informs so many other elements within an organization. Operating model impacts organization design, culture, leadership, talent, employee network, agility, and much more. All of these elements should be considered thoughtfully. If leaders don’t understand the choice of operating model, they will likely struggle with other organizational elements.

Invest in getting it right from the beginning. By taking the time up front to evaluate current-state and desired behaviors, you can choose the operating model that syncs desired behavioral outcomes with strategic goals. You can build a strong platform that dictates all of the other moving pieces, and helps establish long-term downstream successes.

Tiffany McDowell is an Organization Transformation & Talent principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital Practice, where she focuses on helping companies improve performance by building organization structures to execute new capabilities through their workforce.
Uzair Qadeer is an Organization Transformation & Talent manager in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital Practice, where he specializes in organizational development with deep focus on supporting culture, change management, and talent strategies. Uzair has delivered transformative organizational strategies work both in the United States as well as internationally.
Julia Rudansky is an Organization Transformation & Talent consultant in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Human Capital Practice and focuses on organizational strategies, talent, change management, and strategic communications.


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