Why Ways of Working are critical to your Target Operating Model

Why Ways of Working are critical to your Target Operating Model.

By Ways of Working Consultants Joey Flint and Veronique Skelsey.


As part of our article series exploring the Target Operating Model, Ways of Working Consultants, Joey Flint and Véronique Skelsey examine the need for process and structural changes and their effects on an organisation’s culture…

Leading your organisation from Strategy to Value Delivery

In his recent article on The Target Operating Model (TOM), Why your Target Operating Model Matters Liqueo’s Craig Hammet observes that  “Seismic shifts in (the Asset Management community) since the 2008 crisis …..have made the running of TOM programmes almost mandatory.”  He also makes the crucial point that “The TOM is a future state model that only exists after a transformation stage.” In this article, we use our Ways of Working practice to delve into how you can transform your organisation to effectively move from Strategy to Accelerated Value Delivery.

Hierarchic Matrix based Delivery

Asset Management organisations are increasingly realising that their traditional hierarchical matrix delivery models don’t work. Hierarchical models are typically known for being slow to respond to change. Teams regularly operate in silos and technical solutions are duplicated or lack strategic cohesion due to being delivered by multiple teams, vendors and contractors. This leads to a fragmented environment typified by multiple complex dependencies. Delivery success is frequently measured in a myopic fashion by the ability to stick to a deadline rather than by outcome value and joint ownership and success.  Teams (project, programme or by discipline) end up vying against each other for resource.  Reporting is often reduced to the ability to meet arbitrarily imposed external deadlines rather than focussing on releasing value iteratively and regularly.

Value Driven Strategy Lead Delivery

So how do you design your organisation so it can deliver the right product at the right time to high quality? And focus on value and benefit realisation? We will delve into the various aspects to consider below…

1. Mission & Vision to Benefit Realisation

The first step is to clearly articulate the organisation’s vision and strategy. This allows you to map this vision and strategy to product capability roadmaps. A useful way to do this is by using Objective Key Results (OKRs).

A diagram of a business strategy.


2. Product vs Project

The second step is to shift from a short-term project/programme approach to delivery, to structuring your organisation according to value streams and product capabilities.  This will lead to reduced inter-team dependencies and support prioritisation at the capability level.  Focus on cross-functional, T-shaped, high-performing, healthy teams. To ensure alignment across your organisation, encourage expert-led functional groups that operate across product areas. Use data to inform your decisions, measure this against your strategy and inspect and adapt as needed.

3. Cross functional capabilities

The third step is to reduce complexity and duplication of effort by aligning and identifying the various cross capability functions that underpin your product areas. This will accelerate delivery and improve technology solution quality. These capabilities can then be leveraged across all business functions. These capabilities will control their own roadmaps that underpin and provide the capabilities to support the organisation’s strategy.

A screen shot of a diagramDescription automatically generated

4. Improved Ways of Working: the 3 C’s

The fourth step is to embed improved Ways of Working across the organisation. This boils down to reiterating the importance of Collaboration, Communication and Constant Feedback on all levels from strategy through to product and capability delivery. Critical aspects that underpin the 3 C’s are: 

  • Time boxing work (iterative and incremental delivery)

  • Ruthless value-based prioritisation 

  • Collaborative planning

  • Responsibility for feedback and delivery held throughout the business, not limited to the technical teams

Every iterative product release should be measurable and deliver value towards your organisation’s overall vision. Quality should be owned by everyone - from inception through to regular release.  Frequent feedback loops should become second nature and support an overall culture of continuous improvement.

To support these strategy and process changes, it is also crucial to ensure that the right tooling is in place to allow teams to focus on what they are delivering (rather than the process of delivering). An example of this is to ensure that your JIRA is correctly set up to support your teams.

5. Culture

Finally, only by changing structures and process is it possible to change an organisation's culture. It cannot be stated enough that it is essential to involve delivery teams in the change. They contribute valuable opinions and ideas regarding challenges and opportunities. They tend to be the people who are closest to the problems, so their knowledge can be leveraged by the organisation to make the most effective changes. From a cultural perspective, it is important that teams feel included and have some ownership over the structure and process changes. When they feel change is being done ‘to’ them, resistance and pushback is likely, whereas collaborative change is more easily embraced and sustainable.

When everyone feels they belong and they are supported to do their best work; a spirit of innovation, continuous improvement and ownership becomes part of the company culture.

If you would like more help with implementing better Ways of Working practices, please contact us.

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